lili_pad ([info]lili_pad) wrote on February 8th, 2009 at 12:23 am
Manwhore
Title: Manwhore
Author: [info]lilithilien
Fandom/Characters: Merlin, Bradley/Colin (and Bradley and Colin with a whole lot of other people)
Word Count/Rating: ~9300 words of stinking lies. At least some of them are porn.
Summary: "If anybody should be called a manwhore, it's you, Colin."
Disclaimer: Damn lies, all of it. This is the humiliating result of my obsession with Bradley and Colin and bears no resemblance to reality in any sense of the word.
A/N: Bradley James talks to me in bed. No, really. He waits until I'm about to fall asleep, and then appears in muse form to whisper, "Don't you want to get up and write porn about me?" "No," I say, "I'm going to sleep. And I don't write RPF anyway." "But you could. And it's all about me, so it'll be quick and dirty." "Quick and dirty, you say? No time-consuming plot? No angsting?" "Nope. Just a smutlet, won't take you any time at all." I'll tell you this straight up: Bradley James is a damn liar. And [info]sarcastic_jo is responsible for aiding and abetting. (Posted at MerlinRPF.)


The tourists have been gone for a good hour, but Colin still hasn't stopped cackling.

"They called you a manwhore!" He erupts into another peal of laughter that has Richard shooting daggers in their direction, and having those scary raised eyebrows directed at him is the last thing Bradley needs.

"I think they meant it as a compliment," he points out, hoping to shut Colin up. It has the opposite effect.

"They said there are stories about you online. About your"—and Colin seems to be having trouble breathing—"your conquests."

And Bradley really doesn't need this, especially from Colin who, if there's anybody who should be called a ... a manwhore, it's Colin Morgan. "If anybody should be called a manwhore, it's you, Colin."

"Oh yeah?" Colin's laughter fades; his eyebrow arches as dangerously as Richard's, but at least he's not in danger of asphyxiating himself now. "Why's that then?"

"You've slept with everybody in the main cast."

"Nope." Colin shakes his head firmly. "Not everybody."

"Well, obviously not everybody." He spares another look at Richard. "But most everybody. Angel and Katie, of course."

"Of course." That'd been by mutual decision. If by mutual you meant that the girls had decided they wanted to get the sexual tension out of the way from the start, and who were he and Colin to argue with that?

"And Michelle."

"Yeah." Colin gets a dreamy smile that makes Bradley seethe, just a little. Sure, he'd slept with her too, but going one round with him and then spending the next week with Colin had not been good for his ego.

"And Holliday." And that one had really riled Bradley, because he'd introduced them in the first place, and then she hadn't had a second for him the whole time she'd been in France. "And..." Bradley thinks.

"Caroline," Colin helpfully offers.

"No! Caroline? Really?" And Bradley can't help being just a wee bit impressed by that. It's not everybody who gets off with the actress who plays their mom. The idea is really hot.

It's only because he's wondering if there's some twisted Freudian thing making him think the idea is really hot that he misses Colin's next words. Well, that, and Colin does mumble. It's not because he wasn't expecting to hear that, not at all. "Sorry, what was that?"

"I said Santiago."

Bradley blinks once, twice, tries to process that thought. "Santiago. My reputation is ... is besmirched, and you buggered Santiago Cabrera."

"Well, not quite." Colin is blushing now, pure crimson, and it makes him look positively edible. And that's a crazy thought to have, because Bradley's always been 100% heterosexual, thanks very much. He's tolerant and progressive and all that, but he likes breasts. A lot.

But then Colin has to go and say "the other way 'round, actually," and his voice does that lilting Irish thing that Bradley couldn't understand at first, and that now commands his full attention, and when it's those words put together with that image in his head, Bradley can't really be blamed if his mouth gapes like a suffocating goldfish.

He doesn't think his voice wobbles too noticeably when he asks, "And what about Dempsie?"

"Ah, no, nothing like that." And Bradley is thinking for just a second that his head might not explode when Colin adds, "Just a few blow jobs like."

Colin. Sweet, innocent Colin, beloved by ... oh, everybody ... is apparently a sex maniac who spends every minute off-camera getting bent over tables and blown in dark alleys by guest stars. And maybe there aren't really any dark alleys in Villers-Cotterêts, and maybe there aren't really tables that Colin's been bent over with his trousers around his ankles, but that isn't stopping Bradley's cock from taking a distinct interest in these imaginings. And he suddenly hates these leggings that the costume department's decided Arthur needs to wear because there's nowhere to hide anything.

And Colin notices.

Colin definitely notices—of course he does, because that's just the kind of sex maniac he is, as Bradley's only now discovering. And then he gets this look that makes his eyes way too blue, that's intense and addicting, and suddenly Bradley feels like he's the one who's edible. "I told you, I haven't slept with everybody yet."

And then one of the PAs shouts that Colin's needed on set and he disappears, leaving Bradley to have a serious private conversation with whatever's going on in his leggings.

~~~~~


Merlin's meeting Tauren and his men for the first time that afternoon, and Bradley doesn't care. He definitely doesn't watch from one of the hidden alcoves that Pierrefonds has so many of. And he most definitely doesn't pay any attention to how Colin inclines his head to better hear Cal, coming so close that a black curl of hair brushes the man's shoulder. He doesn't watch when Colin lays his long, delicate—bony, Bradley corrects himself—bony fingers on Alan's forearm, or when he casually rests his (bony) elbow on Dave's shoulder to lean against between takes. He definitely doesn't notice Colin's face lighting up with a 500-watt smile when one of the more handsome extras understands his Irish-accented French.

Colin's a manwhore. He can't order a cheese pizza without amusing the waitstaff, but he's probably learned how to say "I want you to suck my cock" in twenty different languages.

And Bradley definitely doesn't care.

~~~~~


Turns out there are dark alleys in Villers-Cotterêts.

Bradley discovers this one night when they're all in the town's little bar, Katie and Angel and Colin and most of the other regular cast, tucked away in the little corner they appropriated their first night in France. Niall's there, one of Arthur's knights, and he definitely fits the rough-and-tumble description. He's from Dublin, his accent more Katie than Colin (more intelligible, Bradley's brain translates), and he can pack away pints like nobody Bradley's ever seen. Bradley's certainly not trying to match him drink for drink, that's a sure recipe for rehab, but he's feeling more than a little loose when Colin suddenly decides to be a big girl's blouse.

"That's it, I'm knackered." He shoves away his glass and struggles to stand, wobbling just a bit. Angel braces him even though she's none too steady herself.

"Aw, don't go," says Bradley, catching himself when he realises he's sounding like Arthur at his whiniest. He doesn't know why he wants Colin to stay, any more than he knows why he's pulled out every stop to make Colin laugh all night long, but he does.

Doesn't help, though, the ball's already rolling. "I'm off too, I've got an early call," Katie explains in a voice far too clear for the amount she's put away tonight. Her reminder brings the rest of the table to its feet—all but Bradley, who needs just a minute to think about where his feet are, and Niall, who's eyeballing him like he's the next round.

And Bradley forgets about his feet and thinks, "Why not?"

"Coming?" It's a question but Colin's not really asking. He expects Bradley to follow him, and Bradley—who has been following him these past few days, a lot more than he wants to, without ever understanding why—decides to shake things up a bit.

"Naw, I'll stay for another."

"Good man, James." Niall claps him on the back. Colin arches an eyebrow and looks like he's holding back from saying something fast and dark and garbled, but instead he just waves and mutters, "Later."

It is later, much later, when they stumble from the bar, half-holding each other up and half-dragging each other down. The night's clear above, but mist has rolled through the valley and soaked into the cobblestones; it settles over Bradley's trainers as comfortably as the arm settled around his shoulders. Niall keeps up a lively conversation with himself about Liverpool F.C.'s left half-back James Bradley and speculating on the origins of Bradley's name; Bradley lets him, feeling strangely contented by the lyrical sounds floating down the quiet street.

"I need the jacks," Niall says of a sudden, stopping so abruptly that Bradley nearly trips. "Easy there, big man," Niall laughs deeply, "wouldn't want our star looking like he's after getting battered by his knights, would we?"

Bradley gets propped up against a wall, in a narrow alley squeezed between the bakery and a luxury estate agent. He cranes his neck up to the stars in their sliver of sky. A dog barks somewhere, then all's quiet again, all except for a long hissing stream. It takes a second to register it as piss hitting the wall; by that time, he's turned his head towards the sound and locked his eye firmly on Niall's cock.

His head suddenly feels a lot clearer.

"A'right there, James?" Niall shakes himself off but he doesn't tuck back into his trousers, just turns to face Bradley with his big hand cradling his knob, his eye twinkling to rival the stars above.

And Bradley is not gay, he really isn't, but for the past week he's been thinking (some, a lot, almost constantly) about what Colin said, and he's imagined (a tiny bit, in great detail, with overpriced hotel porn) what it'd be like to touch Co— another guy. And really, the chances aren't going to get much better than this, not with Niall offering and his own prick chiming in with yes, please and him feeling uninhibited enough to give it a go.

"What's that you want, James?" Niall asks in a voice that's low and musical and just a little too much like Colin's. And Bradley, who was about to shrug it off with a joke, answers with something that surprises himself:

"Blow job." Yes! exclaims his prick; Bradley pictures it punching a tiny fist in the air.

"Yeah?" Niall smirks, his hand moving slow, cupping his swelling cock. "And what do I get out of it?"

"I'll do you after?" Bradley offers before giving himself a chance to chicken out. "Yes," his increasingly not not-gay prick agrees as it swells approvingly.

"Fair enough," shrugs Niall, moving in on him. The next thing Bradley knows, his belt's dangling loose and a hand, big and warm, is digging around in his trousers. "You won't be regretting this in the morning, I hope?"

"No," Bradley shakes his head, "I'm not all that pissed." And he's not, in this instant; he feels more sober than he has all day.

And then that all changes in the next instant, as layers of cloth get peeled back and his cock is exposed to the night air. It's shockingly cold and he shudders once, then again, harder when soft lips slip over his crown. For some reason he can't fathom he pictures Colin's lips, just before he left, drifting open to say something that he never did. Without thinking, Bradley lunges into that warmth, only remembering himself when Niall leans back, pushes his hips against the bricks, and chuckles, "Down, boy."

Bradley's knuckles catch and tear on the rough brick behind him, but he hardly notices. Niall's mouth commands all his focus, burning like icy heat as it sucks just on the tip. It's a kiss that might be teasing if not for the hand circling him tight, sliding up his length until lips and fingers meet. Bradley's head spins at the feel of it, the pressure of it, not at all hesitant like blow jobs usually are in his not-too-shabby experience. There's a harder edge to this one, like Niall knows exactly how rough he can be, how fast he can go, and it makes Bradley's knees go weak—and god he'd feel like such a girl for the way they're shaking if only his cock wasn't so full it threatens to split.

He's really glad he's leaning against the building, though, because somehow Niall gets even bolder. He tongues the length of Bradley's vein with long, wet brushstrokes, making these noises, these messy, slurping sounds, like he's not at all embarrassed, like he doesn't give a damn what Bradley will think of him in the morning. Bradley adds an approving moan to the mix, which makes Niall suck him in even deeper. God but it's amazingly good, and Bradley scrambles for purchase, his nails digging into the medieval bricks to hold him up, crumbling ancient mortar into dust.

And then Niall palms his sac, the pads of his fingers stroking the sensitive skin, and like jump leads electrifying a car battery, each touch pumps jolts of sensation through him. Currents race through his hips, down his thighs, almost-but-not-quite tipping him over the edge. Closer, closer, until finally the battery sparks and Bradley lets himself fall into the wild electricity, violent and blinding and not slowing, not for a good, long while.

Niall's leaning on the wall opposite when Bradley comes to—and really it feels like that, nothing like a blow job usually feels like, because they're usually pretty great but nothing like this—and Bradley takes one look at his mirror image, right down to the exposed erection protruding from his trousers, and slams a hand over his face.

"Oh god, I'm gay."

"Are you now?" comes the disingenuous reply. "In that case, you'll have no trouble giving this a go."

And it's surely a sign of his late-blooming but irrefutable sexual identity that Bradley doesn't think twice before stepping across the alley and dropping to his knees.

It's bigger than he expected, this close up, but not as scary looking as he'd imagined. He wonders if it's bigger than he is. It's not something he could ask—or maybe it is, maybe it's normal for gay guys to ask those sorts of things and that's just something that he's going to have to learn, and he feels a freak-out coming on and…

"In your own time."

Right.

Bradley licks his lips and then sticks his tongue out, tentatively lapping at the wrinkled skin before him. It twitches away, and he feels like a real moron for not predicting that. Holding it in place with one hand, he licks the tip again like he would an ice cream. The taste is a lot sharper, with a faint aroma of stale sweat, but not unpleasant. He licks again, rolling his tongue around the whole head, and definitely not thinking about what Colin would taste like as he presses his lips to the crown. He slides them down a little further, feeling the foreskin pull and stretch, feeling Niall swell in his mouth. It's different, interesting, kind of…

"Ever done this before, James?"

His mouth still stretched wide, Bradley's eyes fly up to see Niall gazing down like he's looking down from the stars. He shakes his head, dragging Niall's cock from side to side as he goes.

"Ah jaysus," groans Niall. "Well, just go slow at first, right? And careful with those canines—they're fuckin' lethal."

Go slow, he can do that. He changes his grip, holds Niall's cock like he does his own when he tosses off (and decides that size-wise he compares quite favourably). He gets an encouraging groan in response so he moves his hand just a little faster, at the same time trying to slide a bit more into his mouth. The taste isn't too bad, really—a bit musky, perhaps, Niall could do with a wash—and those grunting noises when he drags his tongue across the tip are a real boost to his ego. He has some trouble swallowing him any deeper, tho; a few tries are aborted when his gag reflex kicks in, and after that he gives up, just hovering around the top inch and compensating with a thoroughly wicked hand job, if he does say so himself. Niall doesn't seem to mind, if the way his fingernails clutch Bradley's scalp is any indication.

It's not long before Bradley's jaw starts to hurt, even if he's not going very deep (are there exercises that gay guys do to build up their stamina, he wonders) and he's seriously considering stopping and just finishing things off with a hand when he notices that the groans drifting down are a little more urgent and just a little darker. Bradley's wishing he'd just hurry up when he remembers Niall's clever little trick; just seconds later, he's squeezing a pair of sweaty balls and Niall's warning him that he's about to come. He has to spit out the spunk (and really, does it have to taste that disgusting?) but when he leans back on his heels, he commends himself. Not bad; nobody would ever suspect that this was just his first time.

"Not bad for your first time," says Niall.

They wind their way back to the hotel and at first it's strangely comfortable, with none of that painful awkwardness he usually feels after sleeping with somebody. They talk football again, and then Bradley realises that he's talking football with someone after they've given him a blow job, and that's pretty cool. And then he realises that he's talking football with someone who he's given a blow job, and he freaks out again.

Niall holds the door to the lift open, giving him an indulgent 'you're such an idiot' smile. "You're freaking out again, aren't you?"

"What? No." Bradley pushes the button for his floor in silence, then has to ask, "Why do you say that anyway?"

"'cause you've started two sentences now and haven't finished a one of 'em."

"Oh."

The lift opens on Niall's floor. He steps out, then holds the door to keep it from closing. "And the way I see it, you got off with somebody and now you'll sleep like a baby. I reckon you can wait 'til morning to figure out what that says about you."

"Right."

"Night, James."

"Night."

~~~~~


Bradley's scenes aren't shooting until after lunch so he treats himself to a lie-in the next day. And porn—lots of overpriced hotel porn with big-breasted women. He decides that he still really likes breasts.

So, not gay, then. He feels strangely relieved.

He definitely doesn't think about giving Colin Morgan a blow job. At least not much.

~~~~~


"The fuck happened to your hand?"

It figures that Colin would notice the scraped knuckles that Bradley hadn't even noticed last night; when he woke up this morning they'd already gone crusty with dried blood. He thought he'd done a decent job patching them up, but now he sees that using eleven plasters on four fingers probably makes everybody think it's a much worse injury.

Still. Nobody else runs up to him and takes his hand, gently splaying his fingers across their palm. Nobody else examines them intently, like they want to make sure that he's not hurt, or stares at the plasters with eyes that flash silver-blue in the sun. Bradley realises suddenly that the change is every bit as stunning as the gold eye effect they've tricked up for Merlin, and that it hits him with the force of a fist in his solar plexus.

He can't let him know that, of course. "Language, Colin!" he admonishes, but he's not sure if his voice sounds normal. Colin is still holding his hand, after all. "It's not bad, it's just a scrape."

Colin rolls his eyes at the same time as he drops his hand. "Pussy."

"There were impressive amounts of blood, I'll have you know."

"Well, you best not fuss too much, they'll have you spending the day in hospital."

"Good point."

"So what happened?" Colin asks, watching as Bradley strips away the first layer of plasters. "Did you and Niall rumble with the village delinquents last night?"

"Rumble?" Bradley looks incredulous. "Did you just say rumble? Do people actually use that word?"

"People do, yes, actually," insists Colin.

"Admit it, Colin, you grew up in the Bronx in the 1950s."

"Yeah, whatever." He's distracted now, leaning over and picking at the bandages. Bradley stares too as his raw knuckles emerge. He saw them well enough when he cleaned them in the hotel, not even an hour ago, but it's easier than looking at Colin, who's insanely close. Who goes from gritting his teeth like he's lost a limb to bubbling with mocking laughter. "That? That's what had you all worked up?"

Bradley glances up and Colin's there, so close, and his lips look like strawberries they're so red, and Bradley does not, he definitely does not, imagine what they'd taste like.

"Yes, well, we can't all be hard men like you, apparently." And he blinks. Colin's used that expression a hundred times but it's never had that dirty undertone to it, never had his prick sit up and ask, Were you calling me?

Fortunately Colin doesn't seem to notice. He's too busy rolling the sticky bits from the plasters into little rubber balls that litter the castle steps. "So," he asks at last, sounding just a little too casual, "how was the craic after I left?"

"The crack?" After all these months Bradley still finds that expression hilarious, and therefore deserving of mockery. "The crack was mighty, Colin, just mighty."

Colin elbows him, hard. "What'd you do?"

"Oh, you know, booze, blow jobs, the usual."

He shrugs like it's nothing, daring Colin to react. Who does, but only after his mouth hangs open long enough to let in a swarm of flies. "Really? You?"

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"You? And Niall?" And as if to make it perfectly clear, he adds, "Together?"

"Well, not together, obviously. We took turns. You know, it really wasn't bad. A little uncomfortable," he rubs a hand over his jaw, "but I guess you get used to that, right?"

"Why the fuck are you telling me this?"

Which is completely out of order, because Colin's the pervert grilling him for the gory details. On the other hand, Bradley's really glad that he hasn't reported to Costume yet because he wouldn't want to be wearing his leggings right now. Not while Colin's expression shifts from disbelief into something else, something that Bradley doesn't recognise, but that looks a little sinister and ... and dangerous, almost, if you ignore the fact that this is Colin Ten-Stone Morgan.

And Bradley wants.

This realisation breaks over him like a wave, this feeling of lust and ... well, something more urgent than he's used to feeling. It's exhilarating and powerful enough that he feels invincible. "I was just thinking we might give it a try ourselves sometime."

Bradley's prick nods enthusiastically at the idea, but Colin must be difficult, per usual.

"You? And me?"

"Yes, Colin, you and me." He's usually not this slow on the uptake; maybe he spent too long in the sun on this morning's shoot.

"Bradley"—Colin leans in, his eyes shine with a dangerous glint that reminds Bradley of the swords they use on the practice field—"don't take this the wrong way, but go fuck yourself."

He storms off across the courtyard, taking with him that wave of lust, leaving Bradley with a trace of salt scorching the back of his throat.

~~~~~


Everything changes, but nothing does.

They're still inseparable, on set and off, but they never, ever, speak of that day. Bradley vows that he's not extending his once-in-a-lifetime opportunity again. Colin will just have to satisfy himself with inferior substitutes, working his way through the scullery maids, the knights, all the extras. And he does, apparently. They never seem to last long, but there are an awful lot of them.

Not that Bradley's counting.

"Colin's a manwhore," he tells another batch of tourists.

Colin is unperturbed. "Ignore him. He's gone a bit mental since discovering Arthur's gay."

The tourists mutter something that Bradley's sure means 'English pig-dogs' and back away from the crazy actors destroying their peaceful visit to Pierrefonds.

Seems fair enough. After all, Colin's destroyed any sense of peace he had and doesn't even have the decency to notice. Sure, Bradley could continue working his way through the cast and crew (and all right, he does; he's no monk after all), but it's just not as much fun as it used to be. It doesn't make sense: here's a young, beautiful cast, good people all of them, yet he ends up mooning like a girl over a mumbler with big ears. And long, distracting fingers. And frighteningly blue eyes that stop his heart every time they look at him in a certain way. And the reddest lips that in an instant can twist from the most brilliant smile to something unspeakably dirty. (Usually he sees that last image when he's alone in his room and the overpriced hotel porn isn't working, but not always.) Bradley's not too proud to admit (to himself, of course) that he's got it bad, and he deals with it like any normal male: he ignores the whole thing and hopes it will just go away.

Michelle returns to France for a week of pick-ups. Bradley, remembering how Colin looked when he mentioned her, resolves to give them space. Of course, his approach to giving space requires watching closely to make sure that the receiver of space is taking advantage of it, so in reality he ends up spending even more time with Colin than before. Michelle smiles at them a lot, but it's less a 'you're sexy and I want to shag your brains out' look and more a 'you're cute like my twin nephews when they get into trouble' one.

"What's going on?" he asks Colin one night at the bar. It's been an odd evening. Michelle and Katie have been playing with each other's hair and the rest of the cast have been unusually sober, just watching them and drooling into their drinks.

"Huh?" replies Colin, not shifting his eyes from the girls.

"What's going on with you and Michelle? I mean, not you and Michelle, obviously." Dear god, when did he start channelling Gwen? "I just mean the two of you aren't hanging out much." There, that sounded appropriately nonchalant. An image he immediately spoils by sounding like a schoolgirl and asking, "I thought you liked her."

"I do like her." Colin's smile twists. "That's why."

Bradley's not sure what he's missed. "Why what?"

"Why we're not hanging out."

Squinting his eyes and arching his brow doesn't make that statement make any more sense. "So is this some bizarre Irish custom that I don't know about?"

Colin snorts. "Racist."

"I'm not," Bradley huffs. "I'm genuinely interested in the cultural customs of your people."

"My people."

"Yes, your people, Colin. I want to understand how your people manage to survive when you avoid the people—the other people—that you like."

Colin shifts back along the bench, stretching his legs out to force some distance but crossing them and his arms. It's a defensive move Bradley recognises from when Colin first arrived on set, before he was comfortable. "I just … I don't…" he looks down and shakes his head. "I can't believe I'm saying this to you of all people."

"Me? Why not?" There's a sting at the thought that Colin doesn't trust him, but there's even more indignation. "You can't think I'd put it on camera or anything like that!"

"I think you might, yeah. Not to be mean, like. Just because it's funny."

And yeah, that's fair enough. But this seems serious enough that Bradley knows he couldn't do that. "I promise you, Colin, cross my heart and hope to die."

"Stick a needle in your eye?"

Tilting his head, Bradley pretends to consider it. "Kind of extreme, but yeah, okay."

Colin drags his arms tighter across his chest. He looks so vulnerable that Bradley wants to tell him that everything will be okay, to promise that he'll personally make everything okay. But he looks directly at Bradley and says, like it's the most important thing he's ever said to anyone before, "I'm not good at casual sex when I like someone, if you must know."

Oh. It sounds like there's something there that he's supposed to get, that he's missing, but Bradley's not sure what to do with it except say, "So. You really like her then."

The face Colin pulls screams that Bradley's the thickest idiot he's ever seen, starting with disbelief and then dissolving into a grin bigger than any he's worn in days. "Yeah, I like her. Happy now?"

And Bradley is. As long as Colin's smiling like that, he definitely is.

~~~~~


He shouldn't have done it. He only did because he figured that Colin might be sad, now that Michelle was gone. He thought it would cheer him up.

At first it had, he was sure it had. Colin had smiled at him, curious but trusting, when Bradley steered him away from the others as they left the bar, letting the arm Bradley draped over his shoulders guide him into the gap between the bakery and the luxury estate agent's. His eyes had been bright, sparkling even as the streetlamp reflections punched out their brilliant colour.

They'd gone wider when Bradley pressed his palm along the zipper of Colin's jeans. There was life stirring there, and he felt powerful for awakening it. Bradley dropped his forehead to Colin's shoulder. He'd wanted this for ages, but now it seemed that he was content just to bury his nose in Colin's long neck, to inhale so deeply that the very air in his lungs was Colin.

Colin's hands had crawled around Bradley, one clutching the small of his back, the other in his hair. They held him so solidly that Bradley felt pinned, a sensation his prick embraced wholeheartedly. It demanded to come out and play, and Bradley had wondered how they were going to do this. Would he go down on Colin first, and then Colin would reciprocate? Or would they just pull each other off, in which case he could stay pinned like this with his whole body flush along Colin's frame.

Bradley was just admitting that he was pretty easy to please, really, as long as there was plenty of touching involved, when suddenly there wasn't. Colin had shoved him back, hard enough that his shoulder crashed into the wall opposite.

"What the…"

But Colin was already well into his rampage. "Jesus, Bradley, the fuck's gotten into you?" he'd shouted, his accent flying thick and furious. "Christ, even after what I told you?"

Not giving Bradley a chance to reply, he'd turned on his heel and disappeared into the night.

~~~~~


Colin doesn't say one word to him the next day that's not scripted.

~~~~~


Or the day after that.

~~~~~


On the third day, Bradley's starting to go a bit mad. He starts holding conversations with Colin, supplying both parts. His version of Colin likes to point out that Bradley makes very good points and is right about almost everything.

Angel looks at him like he's a sad, sad man.

~~~~~


Bradley's sick of everyone telling him that he and Colin need to talk. What do they think he's been trying to do for the past week? It's not his fault that Colin Morgan is the most stubborn man on the planet.

He still can't figure out how he read Colin so wrong. This many months of working together and surely some signs of his split personality would have slipped out before this—unless Colin (in all of his personalities) is just that good an actor. But still, Bradley's sure he would have suspected something. They haven't just worked together, after all. They've lived in hotel rooms side by side, they've allied together against everyone else, they've shared their secrets. With Colin firmly in mind (and quite often in hand), Bradley even abandoned his 100% heterosexuality to ascend the Kinsey scale.

And his shoulder's still sore where it slammed into the brick wall.

Villers-Cotterêts is too small a village to keep any kind of secrets. It's the kind of place, Bradley decides, where everyone has affairs with everyone else, but people stay married anyway because it's just too much trouble to get away from them. You'd see your ex every day anyway, so what's the point? Bradley can't live like that. He's too used to London, to being anonymous enough that you can disappear from uncomfortable situations, where you don't have to return to them every single day. There's where Colin shattered the bottle of wine and stained Bradley's left trainer purple. There's where Colin nicked the orange and then Bradley guilted him into returning it, howling as he tried to pay but the shopkeeper didn't understand. There's the alleyway…

He hates that damn alleyway now, wants to brick it up so nobody will venture down it and make the same mistake. He hates that in the daytime the aroma of freshly baked bread fills the air and blots out the bite of Colin's aftershave, and that when he passes in the night, it doesn't. He hates that every time he walks by, he pictures Colin's trusting smile and bright eyes. He hates that he doesn't see either of them anymore.

~~~~~


All day Bradley's been trying to reach his mum to wish her happy birthday. It's late when she rings back, so while the others traipse down to the bar he stays behind at the hotel so they can chat. By the time they hang up, he's half-inclined to just stay in. The pub's a drag these days; either he tries to go on like nothing's changed, but it's this awkward forced thing, or he broods as Colin laughs the night away. It's like he's watching the Colin Morgan Show from the wings, and Bradley's never at his best when the spotlight's not on him.

Then again, he's never been good at sharing the stage with anyone before clicking with Colin. He's not comfortable as a solo act now, and he suspects Colin isn't either. His laughter doesn't feel as genuine and his humour's a bit too predictable—nothing anybody would notice, really. Only Bradley can tell he's not really trying.

No, he'll give tonight a miss. He's got half a bottle of wine that Angel left a few nights ago, and he's got the telly. He'll be fine.

Twenty minutes later, after spitting out disgusting stale wine and cursing dubbed television, he's headed to the pub.

He hears them from a few metres away, the unmistakable sounds of grunts and gasps, and Bradley steps more lightly as he approaches the gap between the shops. A spot of voyeurism promises to be more entertaining than the pub; besides, Bradley feels rather proprietary towards this particular alley, much as he hates it.

"Jesus, yeah, that's…"

The familiar voice grates across his ear just as he reaches the corner, freezing his heart and his step at the exact same moment. Paralysed, completely lacking the will to look away, Bradley stares. Colin looks just like Bradley always imagined he would. Long and lean he stretches against the wall, his wiry body almost completely swallowed in darkness. Only his face shines like a full moon on the water, stark with unrestrained emotion. Bradley fills in the pieces hidden in shadow: the shuttered eyes, the thick eyelashes fluttering on his cheek, the choked breaths escaping strawberry lips…

He should go, he should move, he should not watch this.

But he can't. He's pinned here with his gaze locked on the bow of Colin's neck, right where it curves with an almost inhuman grace. Right where he wanted to bury himself when it was Colin's hands on his back, in his hair, pinning him here for just a few minutes…

He should not watch this. His prick even knows this; it can't help but perk up, but reluctantly, like it knows it's ruining any chances of rebuilding their friendship but can't help wanting to join in. Bradley can hardly blame it, not when faced with the sight of an utterly fuckable Colin.

That sight is so all-consuming that it's several seconds before Bradley registers the second person in the scene. When he does—when his brain finally kicks in that Colin's not huffing like a porn star on his own and he sees whose face is buried in Colin's crotch—the venom of his anger almost scares him.

"What the he-"

"Bradley?"

He should go, he should move, he definitely shouldn't speak. But this is Derek, one of the few people in the world that Colin wouldn't pull from a burning building. And Bradley knows this because he heard Colin say it, in a tone as treacherous as Bradley's ever heard him be, after Derek boasted about making good money from seal pup skins. Apparently now Colin's forgiven him, or Derek's at least on his way towards making amends. And if that happens, it could shatter everything Bradley thinks he knows about Colin.

"Fuck off, James," growls Derek, "unless you want to join in." Bradley can't see him, thank god, but he can imagine the man's arrogant sneer.

At least Colin shoves him away, which is good; Bradley's anger is simmering too high right now and seeing Derek touch him could bring it to full boil.

"But it's Derek," he points out helpfully, as if maybe Colin just didn't notice. "You don't even like him!"

"I know! That's the whole point, you eejit."

The first words that Colin's said to him in as many days and they make absolutely no sense. No more than does the fact that he, Bradley James, is kicking up a fuss in the middle of the street like a jealous slapper.

"This is insane," he mutters mostly to himself. To Colin, he says, "Fine. You just carry on with what you're doing. So sorry I disturbed you. I'll be out of your way now."

~~~~~


He never makes it to the pub that night. He returns to the hotel instead and finishes off the stale wine, drinking straight from the bottle and pretending it's more palatable that way. He's a little surprised to hear Colin arrive back not long after; as always, Colin's shoes thump against their shared wall as soon as he enters his room.

Not that Bradley's listening to make sure he's alone, definitely not. And that's definitely not relief he feels when the murmur of the telly bleeds through the walls and the ancient plumbing creakily announces that Colin's drawing a bath.

No, Bradley doesn't care.

And why should he? Colin apparently doesn't mind screwing the entire universe—in fact, he seems to be making a good dent in it already. At this point there's probably not a single person in the whole cast or crew who hasn't had a piece of Colin Morgan. His increasingly comprehensive Roster of Manwhoredom now even includes that wanker Derek, mass murderer of innocent baby seals.

Not a single person but Bradley, apparently. He's just not up to Colin Morgan's discerning standards, obviously. Maybe if he were to … to skin some puppies or get completely locked and loutish he'd get on his radar. Maybe that's it: maybe Colin's got some secret fetish for boorish lager lads.

And seriously, what is Colin's problem anyway? It's not like Bradley is repulsive. In fact, he's quite fit, he's sure of that. He wasn't in bad shape coming into this production, but months of handling swords and stomping around in chain mail have done miracles for his upper body. Why, if he'd gone to the pub tonight, he could have had his pick of people to shag. Without resorting to … to Derek's seal-bloodied hands.

That's what he should have done, Bradley decides belatedly. Get right back up on the saddle—isn't that what they always say? Well, then that's what he'll do. It's just good strategy, really. Before long, this … this crush-thing that he has on Colin will just go away, just like all the times he's had crushes before. Granted, this one has hit him harder than most, but that's just because they're friends—they were friends, he reminds himself. It's just like digging up dandelions, you've got to yank them out by the very roots or they'll survive to creep back another day. Starting first thing tomorrow, he'll be giving Colin Morgan some fierce competition in the manwhore stakes. And he'll do it the smart way. He'll seek out people as far from Colin as can be, in looks, temperament, whatever … blonds, extroverts, people who enunciate…

Feeling better than he has all night, Bradley stretches across the bed and starts making a mental list. He might start with Jenny in Costume; petite and blonde, plus he'll see her first thing in the morning anyway.

"Very efficient," chimes in a voice that sounds too much like one he's trying to forget. Bradley ignores it and moves on to Robert in Props. He's a little more obsessed with medieval weaponry than is strictly needed for this production, but he's got a wicked dragon tattoo.

"And probably knows his way around a sword," the voice helpfully supplies.

It figures. Colin's not spoken to him in over a week, and now Bradley can't get his annoying voice out of his head. It's not like they're even friends anymore. In fact, Bradley thinks with a grimace, he's probably got a better shot with him now that they're not friends. So long as Colin doesn't like him, he'll be happy to shag him.

And then he hears more echoes of that voice:

"I'm not good at casual sex when I like someone, if you must know."

"I can't believe I'm saying this to you of all people."

"Jesus, Bradley, the fuck's gotten into you? Even after what I told you?"


Epiphanies don't come around too often, in Bradley's experience, but when they do, he's sharp enough to recognise them. The pieces fall like dominoes. Colin wasn't afraid Bradley would spill what he'd said about Michelle; he hadn't wanted to tell him because he felt the same way about Bradley. Colin hadn't pushed him away because he didn't like him; he pushed him away because he did.

Colin likes Bradley.

And Bradley is still angry, because who else but Colin Morgan would make this so difficult instead of just coming out and saying anything, and he's still angry over Derek (and really, that's going to be a lot to forgive). But ever since they first got to France, Bradley has been running next door to share every discovery with Colin, whether it be awesome porn or spiders in the tub, and this is no different. Not even bothering with his shoes, he stomps over and hammers on the door.

"Colin. Colin, open up!"

After a minute the door cracks. "Yeah? What do you want?"

Colin's obviously fresh out of the bath, all wrapped up in a white hotel robe. His skin's rose-red, the curls at the base of his neck damp. A lonely drop of water steals down his cheek. Bradley swallows hard, for just a second forgetting why he's there. Then, remembering, he proudly declares, "You like me."

Angling his head, Colin casts him a sideways look, the one that says he thinks Bradley's dead from the neck up, but there's enough hint of smile to it that Bradley's encouraged. "How do you reckon?"

"Well, I'm irresistible, obviously."

"Are you now?" Colin's eyes glisten blue now, bright as sun streaming through the stained glass at Notre Dame. It's a flirtatious look that Bradley remembers from before. It's one he's sorely missed. "How is it I've been resisting you then?"

A glib comeback about relative IQs rolls to the tip of his tongue, but before it can spill over he stops himself. Bradley doesn't want to just go back to how they were before. He wants something different, something more, and for that he's got to say something. After all, this whole thing is already so convoluted because Colin just wouldn't come out and say what he meant. "Because I've been ridiculously dense. And you've been terribly cryptic."

Colin smirks, shakes his head. "Really I don't think I have been."

"Yeah, you most definitely have been." A sudden ruckus near the lift reminds Bradley that they're having this conversation in the hall. "Mind if I come in? Katie'll be by any second ready to mock men discussing their feelings."

Without answering, Colin holds the door wide for Bradley to step through. He closes it with a lean, pressing back until it clicks. "Is that what we're doing so? Discussing our feelings?"

Bradley winces at the thought; much as he wants this, decades of conditioning are hard to break. "Believe me, I hate the idea as much as you do. But we've got to do something."

"Yeah." The word, heavy with resignation, encourages Bradley. He hadn't thought his friend untouched by the past week of enmity, but it's still reassuring that Colin sounds like he was just as miserable. His voice lightens, though, and goes flirty again when he asks, "So you think I like you?"

"I know you do," Bradley nods. Colin's looking at him all smug and delicious and it's hard to think, especially when Bradley remembers why he knows. "Because otherwise we'd be having sex. Lots and lots of it, and it'd be bloody amazing."

"Amazing? You think so?"

Colin looks far too amused by all this, and Bradley would give anything to taste the smile spreading across his face. "Oh, I know so, definitely," he insists. "But we're not because of your absurd dedication to shagging people you don't like. Which means you end up with Derek—which I have to say, Colin, is just a bad idea all 'round." Colin's amusement fades to a suspicious glare; Bradley knows he should just shut up but he's never really learned how to do that. "You, um … you didn't, did you? With Derek?"

He gets a level stare before Colin finally answers, "No, telling people you don't like them mid-shift usually spoils the mood."

"Oh, good." Bradley's surprised to find a huge boulder's just rolled off his shoulder.

"Good?" Colin's eyes grow positively evil. "You're jealous!"

Bradley scoffs. "Don't be ridiculous. I'm only looking out for you."

"Looking out for me, right. And how do you propose to do that?"

"I already told you, Colin; pay attention. You should be having amazing sex with me. Because"—and Bradley's got to spell it out, because Colin can be extraordinarily dense when he wants to be—"because I like you, too, you know."

And it should end there, but it won't, because this is Colin and he has to make everything more difficult than it needs to be. Convincing as these arguments should be, Colin looks like he's having trouble weighing things up. "I told you, this"—he waves a hand between them like he's batting an extremely annoying fly—"with us, I can't do casual."

"Colin, you idiot," says Bradley, and even though he's practised saying that as Arthur for months he's never meant it like he does now, "this"—he waves his own hand between them—"is anything but casual."

To prove it, Bradley kisses him.

If their first kiss hadn't been perfect, Bradley might have believed he'd been wrong about the whole thing. He might have thought he'd built it up so much in his mind that the fantasy had become more important than the real thing—than the real Colin, the real flesh and blood creature clutching his arms and staring at him with wide, surprised eyes.

But it is perfect, if perfect means teeth clacking together and Colin's sharp fingers digging half-moons into his skin and everything so far from what he's imagined that he's in no danger of getting them mixed up. Perfect right now is Colin laughing against his lips when they turn their heads the same way and smash noses; perfect is the feel of half-damp curls slipping through his fingers like corn-silk when he pulls Colin even closer. Perfect is this crazy idea he has: that he thinks of Colin constantly, and he's with him always, and if they could make this work then it'd be the best thing ever.

There's nothing casual about it, but that just makes him want it all the more.

Colin's pushier than he expected him to be, as Bradley discovers when he's shoved back onto the bed, Colin falling on top of him. He's heavier too, surprisingly solid, their bodies lining up inch for inch across the covers. Bradley's been with not a few guys since he decided to widen the playing field, but never in bed. Never horizontal. It's crazy but it feels like a sea change for Bradley, for the two of them, that goes way beyond just how ecstatic his prick to feel Colin's leg sinking between his thighs.

Bradley peels back Colin's fluffy robe, unwrapping him like a wax-paper-wrapped Turkish delight—the rose-flavoured ones, he thinks as the flushed skin is revealed. Colin is a beautiful expanse of flesh, and seeing him there, all lovely and willing, Bradley's nearly crushed with the enormity of it all. This is for real. He's pretty sure he doesn't say that out loud, but he might have done, because Colin smiles down at him with deliciously kissable lips like he did, like he knows and like he feels the same way.

Colin leans in for another kiss and muscles flex across his shoulders, wiry sharp angles that perfectly fit the curve of Bradley's hands, that subtly shift as Bradley navigates the topography of his back. His kisses grow more heated as Bradley discovers the two perfect mounds of his bum, two perfect handfuls of flesh that cause Colin to moan and grind down against him when he squeezes. It suddenly occurs to Bradley that this is how he used to think of breasts, something he isn't missing at all at the moment.

Still, being who he is, Bradley has to test that, to poke at it until he's bitten. With a quick twist he flips their position; Colin lands under him with a grunt, staring up with eyes hungry and surprised. Long fingers scrabble across Bradley's sides, finding the edge of his t-shirt and wrenching it off. This is better, with so much more skin, with their chests flush and rising together with each breath. Bradley plants kisses along Colin's neck as he moves down, across the ridge of his sternum, down his breast bone dusted with dark hair. That comes as a bit of a surprise, but not an unpleasant one; it tickles his nose and makes him exhale a hot breath over Colin's nipple, which in turn earns him a sharp gasp. Colin likes that then; it figures that he'd have extra-sensitive nipples, and Bradley throws himself into indulging them until they're bruised and diamond-hard and Colin's writhing beneath him like the sex maniac he is.

He proves this again by making quick work of Bradley's zipper and getting his hand inside Bradley's jeans. Those long fingers that have enchanted Bradley for so long wind around him; if that weren't enough to do his head in, the dirty tone of Colin's voice as he asks "will you fuck me?" nearly finishes him off. Bradley hasn't finished nodding before Colin's reaching towards the bedside table, returning with condom and lube before Bradley's even shed his jeans. "You'll like this," Colin promises.

And Bradley has to lean forward to kiss Colin again, full of gratitude that he's not having to admit he's never done this before. "You think so?" he still teases, although he's quite sure he will.

"I know so, yeah." Colin pushes him back, giving himself room to manoeuvre his legs up to his chest. He never takes his eyes off Bradley's, even as he reaches down and slides a greased finger down his crack. Bradley reads the dare in his face, the mischievous expression that for months now has tempted Bradley to follow him anywhere. The image burns itself into Bradley's retina, lingering like a double-exposed photograph as Bradley drops his gaze to the fingers disappearing into Colin's tiny hole. Bradley's curious finger inches up and strokes along the crevice, slick from spilled lube, slides in alongside Colin's two as Colin moans "oh god yes" and pushes back until Bradley's knuckles slip inside. It's tight, so tight, and nothing bigger will fit in there (sure it will, insists his prick, twitching impatiently), but Colin pants encouragements and slowly comes apart with nothing more than his fingers, and for once Bradley realises that's enough.

But not for Colin Morgan, sex maniac. "Bradley…fuck," he huffs, "want you…now."

Still not convinced he'll fit, Bradley dons a condom and slicks on more lube. Too much, probably, this is enough to oil a crankcase, but there's no way he's going to hurt Colin. Even so, it's is a tighter squeeze than he's ever felt before and every cell in his body screams for him to just let go, to slam headfirst into that blissful stricture, but he holds back, even freezing halfway in when Colin gasps. "Did I hurt you?"

"Christ, don't stop," protests Colin, "that feels massive." Which Bradley knows is just Colin's way of saying it's good, but he decides to take as a compliment anyway. It is massive, this feeling of Colin opening up around him, fitting like his body was made just for Bradley. Needing to share this with Colin, just like he's always shared everything with him, he reaches down a still-slick hand to wrap around his cock. The first time he's ever touched Colin like this and he's torn between wanting to explore every ridge, marvelling at how right it feels in his hand, and just wanting to make Colin fall to pieces.

Colin drags him down for a hard, wet kiss and groans "harder" against his lips. Demanding; Bradley thinks he probably should have known that. He obliges, though, with each thrust going deeper until it feels like he's finding something there just for him, something that makes more sense than anything ever has. He can't last long, he knows that; even his tried-and-true method of picturing Richard's sweat-soaked wig is useless against Colin's legs knotting like ribbons around his back, against hips that lunge up into him like cresting waves. It's almost a relief when Colin's demands and pleas and choked curses subside and his body clenches into an impossibly tight squeeze. At last Bradley lets go, managing just a few more thrusts before he comes, blindingly hot, and promptly collapses on Colin's shoulder.

~~~~~


Later, much later, after they can breathe again and the stars have stopped twinkling in Bradley's peripheral vision, he says, "Told you. It was amazing."

"Shut it, Bradley." But Colin kisses him again, so Bradley knows he's right.

~~~~~


Everything goes back to normal after that. Well, except that Colin's smiling a lot more on set. And, well, Bradley is too.

"This is Colin Morgan, star of Merlin," he tells a tour bus of foreign tourists who seem to have no idea what he's saying or why a man dressed in 14th century armour is even addressing them, but seem happy enough to take a picture of him. "Colin's a manwhore."

"Used to be," Colin grins cheekily before pulling him close. Cameras flash like fireworks on Guy Fawkes, capturing forever the sight of Camelot's worst manservant snogging the Crown Prince. "But I saved the best for last."


~~~ The End ~~~



Endnotes:
1. So I got the idea for this story after booking my hotel room in Pierrefonds. (!!!) And I might've just been trying to think of clever things that I might say to the cast if I met them. Somewhere between "Katie, do you mind if I roll around in your hair?" and "will Merlin and Arthur just snog already?" this appeared.
2. I have an unholy love for the word "manwhore." Thanks to my Fellow Bathtubbers will always make me think of Verbotene Liebe's Gregor Mann. But it fits Bradley and Colin just as well. And it's better than the working title, which was "OMG RPS WTF."
3. Sincere apologies for the whole seal-clubbing thing. I kinda wish I'd made this up, but sadly, Derek is based on a real person I know who actually does things like that and will threaten to "cheev ya" if you don't like it. Colin would not approve, I'm sure.
4. I would probably still be agonising over this story if [info]sarcasticchick and I hadn't raced to the finish line. I totally beat her, but she says that since mine is RPS she still wins. I'm afraid she's right. Anyway! Her story is AWESOME and you should go read it right now! (Or you should as soon as she finishes agonising over the title and posts it and I can link. See, I win!) ETA: Hours later she posts: Into His Own. And she still claims she won. Even tho I finally came up with the title for her. Der hell? Nonetheless, you must read it because it's gorgeous and will make your heart hurt in all the right places.
5. And apologies too for writing the longest RPF ever. Plot happened, WTF? I'll never again listen to Bradley James whispering to me in bed.




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