Pairing: Bradley/Colin (Merlin RPS)
Warnings: None besides, perhaps, excessive schmoo.
Disclaimer: This never happened. This probably never will happen. Even if it totally should.
Summary: There's no point in coming out when your closet's got windows. Sequel to If We Sleep Together (Will You Be My Friend Forever)
Notes: I'm a massive slut for praise. Normally in my writing for work or for personal pleasure with my original fic, I count myself lucky if I get one comment. If I get three or so, I pat myself on the back and consider myself internet-famous. So I kind of sort of got a little drunk on the multiple pages of comments to my first foray into fandom - If We Sleep Together (Will You Be My Friend Forever) - and not only obsessively refreshed my del.icio.us tag watch, like, a heinous amount of times (OH MY GOD THIRTY WHOLE PEOPLE BOOKMARKED ME), but I responded to every comment I got, which I know is totally breaking netiquette for what cool authors do. Cool authors just serenely bask and do not respond to comments except from their special entourage and are, you know, put-together and shit. Fuck that. I clearly am not very cool.
Anyways, things happened, I got a little praise-drunk from the lovefest, and then I wake up and find myself brain-knocked-up with a sequel going "WRITE ME WRITE ME WRITE ME". And, um, two weeks and 15,000 words later, here we are! Hah hah. Hah. Hah. (FUN FACT: If We Sleep Together was labeled when saved as "WHAT IS THIS ASSFUCKERY", so this was saved as "WHAT IS THIS ASSFUCKERY, PART TWO")
Of course, I didn't write this monster on my own. Huge thanks, as always, go out to Teija and Louise, my wives, gealach_ros, of course, for providing the constant stream of crack every good Merlin fangirl needs, cherrybina, who did not mind me being needy and trolling the shit out of her in comments because she's cool and I like stalking cool people and having bizarre discussions with myself about the Container Store in their presence (I REALLY LIKE THAT PLACE, OKAY, STOP JUDGING), and to the dearest, darlingest thisissirius, who has been more amazing and supportive than words can say, and who chose out Laon, and without whom this fic would have been dumped in a corner and left to die. I love you, Sissicakes. <3
ALSO, SHE MADE A COVER. GO TELL HER HOW AMAZING SHE IS. NOW.
Baby I'm Afraid - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Ion Square - Bloc Party
Epic Last Song - Does It Offend You, Yeah?
Love Made Visible - Delays
Colin doesn't know when he fell in love with Bradley just that somewhere along the way he did, completely and totally and without any reserve. He'd always wanted him, of course, because he had eyes. He always had a tiny bit of a crush on him. But at some point around the middle of filming series two when Bradley had fallen asleep on Colin's bed and was snoring, Colin had paused the movie, looked over at Bradley, and somehow known he was in love with him. It should have been a new thought, but it didn't feel new. There was no sharp pang of realization or shock, instead it simply felt like he'd put words to something he'd always known and accepted. He was in love with Bradley and Bradley would never, ever love him back.
He had let himself brush Bradley's fringe off his forehead gently, let himself pretend that things could be any different for one second, and then Bradley had grunted in his sleep and squirmed, and that was the end of that.
Colin has an bad habit of becomming infatuated with the one person it's impossible for him to have, which has led to a lot of truly unfortunate teenaged anguish and poor musical choices and times when he'd shut himself in his room.
He's been in love twice. The first time was Aoife when he was seventeen. She'd had nut-brown, sleek hair that she wore straight and long, bright blue eyes, and always smelled of cherry chapstick. Colin had nearly failed out of history because all he could do was stare at her and pretend that the goalie of the football team wasn't her boyfriend, but him. He'd loved her completely, fully, with his entire heart. He'd taken her notes when she was sick and thought the greatest moment of his life would always be when she agreed to have a slow dance with him at the prom, even if she'd called him "Conor" the entire time by accident.
The second time was Greg, in drama school. They'd fought more than they had sex, constantly broke up and got back together, and yelled a lot. But Greg was the first time he'd ever ached for someone, felt a violent need that couldn't be filled by any substitute. It was raw and gritty and painful and Colin had thought, at the time, that anything that hurt so much could only be love.
His mother tells him that he's always been like this, wanting what was just beyond possible or out of reach, and he'll grow out of it. When he falls in love properly, she tells him, it will be easy. He'd never believed her before he met Bradley. Bradley is loud and impossible and too bright and too beautiful. He laughs too hard and jokes too much. He's witty and warm and even though Colin knows Bradley can break his heart worse than anyone ever has had the power to, it's not hard to love him at all.
Being in a relationship with Bradley is by far the most surreal experience of Colin's life, because he's having sex with Bradley. Not in his head, closing his eyes in the shower and pretending his hand isn't his hand. No, Bradley's really in his shower, running slick hands up and down his back while he mouths at Colin's neck, hot and claustrophobic. He's got a thing for Colin's neck that Colin thinks maybe they're going to have to talk about before makeup figures it out and throws a fit.
"Bradley," he moans, because Bradley's hands have moved down and are groping his ass and it feels too good. Overwhelmingly good. He feels like he wants to crawl out of his skin even though this has been going on for weeks, for months. The shock doesn't wear off. "Bradley, I, I, Christ."
Bradley pulls away from, looking vaguely annoyed. "What, Colin?" He asks. "I was enjoying myself there."
Colin blinks at him for a few moments, taking in his testy expression, the water running in rivulets down his cheek, the way his hair is plastered to his forehead. "We're wasting the hot water?" He says finally.
"So turn it off," Bradley says. "Is that all?"
"Yes." Colin turns the knob. "Please continue."
"Well, thank you for your permission," Bradley says in an extremely put-out, snotty tone, but instead of going back to his neck, he kisses Colin full on the mouth, licking away the taste of tap water and humming, so he's probably not that put out at all.
"You look different," Richard says in between takes."Happier."
"Was I unhappy before?" Colin asks.
"No," Richard tilts his head and examines Colin carefully. "You can tell me about it, you know." His voice is quiet, pitched to be soothing, like Colin needs coaxing. "I think I'd understand better than anyone."
Colin chokes on his water. "But I -" he splutters. "I'm not, I mean, I'm not, it's not like that."
"Of course not," Richard says. His eyes are twinkling behind his glasses. Thankfully, they call for places before Colin has to think up an answer that's somehow lying and not lying at the exact same time. "Oh and Colin?" Richard says, slowly easing out of his chair. "I'm happy for you, whoever it is."
"Um, thanks." Colin says awkwardly.
"Don't mention it," Richard says, clapping him on the back. "Now, let's hurry up so I can get out of this blasted wig."
After the whole Neil-walking-in-on-them debacle, it was sort of inevitable that the rest of Colin's family would find out. He'd expected it to be that night, but he'd forgotten that Neil is a total rat bastard.
"Hello, Colin," his father says, ringing him two days after Neil's been gone. "I want you to know we love you and are very proud of you."
"I - thank you?" Colin says. Any conversation that begins on this vein cannot be good.
"Just remember that, regardless of what your mother is about to tell you," his father says, and Colin thinks for one panicked second oh God, are they getting divorced?
"Colin Morgan!" His mother's strident tones come unnaturally loud over the line. "I know I raised you better than to keep things from me!"
"Hi, Mum," Colin sighs. He's going to kill Neil.
"You're in a serious relationship, with your co-star! Your co-star, Colin, why did I have to hear it from your brother?"
"It never seemed like the right time to tell you," Colin mumbles. Maybe maim Neil, and then tie up on a pole, and then he'll dump flesh-eating maggots on top of him. "Neil figured out by accident. He saw us kissing."
"And why aren't you being more careful not to get caught? I swear Colin, you don't have the good sense God gave a teaspoon..."
Colin lets his mother ramble, and ramble, and ramble some more. He thinks she couldn't possibly keep talking for five straight minutes, but he's still listening after ten when Bradley sticks his head in the room.
"Colin, I was thinking that - " Colin makes a shushing noise.
"Uh huh," Colin says, and mouths "Mum on the phone," at Bradley.
"Ah," Bradley nods, draping himself over Colin. Colin's mum keeps talking on and on forever and Bradley starts getting impatient, moving his hands under Colin's t-shirt and pressing small kisses up and down his neck. Colin squeaks.
"Are you listening, Colin?" his mother demands just as Bradley slips his fingertips under Colin's waistband, massaging back and forth, back and forth.
"Yes, Mum," he says tightly. "Sorry, Bradley just came in."
"Put that boy on the phone," his mother demands.
"Mum, I don't think..."
"Put your boyfriend that you lied to me about on the phone this instant, Colin Morgan."
"Bradley," Colin says, leaning back. "Bradley, stop it, my mum wants to talk to you." He puts his hand over the mouthpiece. "You don't have to you kn- mmph." Bradley cuts him off with a kiss.
"I'm excellent with mothers," he says. "Don't worry." And then in a bright, chirpy voice, like he wasn't just fondling Colin, "Hello, Mrs. Morgan!"
"I can't listen to this," Colin mutters, getting up and shutting himself in his bathroom, listening to Bradley uh-huhing and laughing. He feels sick.
"Yeah, yeah I do," Bradley's voice says distinctly, right at the doorway. "A lot. Yeah. I know I am. Okay, I'll tell him. Lovely talking to you too, Mrs. Morgan." Colin hears the beep of the phone. "You can come out of hiding, Colin."
Colin pokes his head out of the bathroom. "What did she want?" He asks tentatively.
"The same thing mothers usually want from me," Bradley shrugs, tugging Colin out of the bathroom.
"So sexual favors, then."
"No," Bradley grins wickedly. "That's what I want from you."
Bradley should never, ever, ever be given information that puts him at an advantage over someone, because he abuses it. He teases and teases and teases mercilessly and refuses to let up, because he's Bradley, and letting up probably indicates some sort of great mental weakness to him.
When Colin and Bradley had officially decided to go from sort-of friends with benefits to an unnamed something more, Bradley had started talking during sex. Not talking-talking about the weather, or dirty talking like all the things he was going to do to Colin (and Colin would not have minded that at all), but just... speaking. Colin never realized that Bradley was choking back words the entire time, just little phrases like "Oh, god, Colin, yes," and "fuck, yes, love you." Colin likes to encourage these little vocalizations, twisting his hips or whispering back, and then one day Bradley had rested his forehead against Colin's and panted out, "oh, sweetheart, sweetheart."
Colin had froze, shocked, but Bradley hadn't seemed to notice, murmuring, "yeah, sweetheart, c'mon."
"Say it again," Colin had moaned, "please, say it."
"What? Sweetheart?" Colin had screwed his eyes shut and nodded, too ashamed to open them until Bradley breathed the word sweetheart" against Colin's ear, over and over like the world's most tender prayer.
Colin doesn't know what it is about Bradley calling him that that works for him so well. It's a ridiculously sentimental nickname, and only his mother and grandmothers have ever used it on him before. It certainly doesn't turn him on when they use it. Maybe it's something about how Bradley's voice always drops and gets husky when he says it, or how he mostly says it when they're alone, pressed against Colin's ear like a secret that theirs to keep. Whatever it is, it's got some sort of magical sexual power over him, and Bradley knows it. He'll use it just before Colin has a scene, or whisper it in his ear when they're at the pub with the cast and crew, or, like now, when Colin is typing an e-mail to Neil spelling out the violent, dreadful things Colin is going to do to him for telling their mother. (First, he will be strung up by his toes, then, acid will be poured into his eyes while his limbs are being torn off by rabid monkeys.)
"Colin," Bradley whines, apparently too lazy to come up with his own entertainment, "I'm bored."
"Well, I'm writing Neil death threats," Colin says. "Find some other way to entertain yourself."
"Come on." If Colin were looking up, he probably could have caught the mischievous twinkle in Bradley's eye before he bent himself over, shut Colin's laptop and pushed it to the floor. Bradley is a very good loomer.
"I was in the middle of something," Colin protests.
"It can wait," Bradley says huskily, nipping at Colin's bottom lip and tugging.
"Bradley," Colin says with a reasonable imitation of severity.
"Please," Bradley whispers. His eyes are hooded and his lips are impossibly pink. "Please, sweetheart."
"I hate you," Colin groans, pulling Bradley down on the bed. "I hate you so very much."
"Oh, yeah," Bradley twists his hips in that deliciously amazing way that makes Colin's vision spark. "I can feel exactly how much you loathe me right now."
Between his mother and Richard, Colin starts thinking a lot about coming out. It's not that he's in the closet, per se. A lot of people know he isn't picky when it comes to gender, they're just not the general public, and since he does date girls hypothetically, it's no matter of consequence. But no matter who he was dating, he wouldn't really want to tell people about it. Relationships are very personal to him, something he hates to share unless he absolutely has to. And he especially doesn't want to share about his relationship with Bradley. They have to share too much of themselves already, and Colin's selfish. He wants to keep these tiny parts of Bradley that he's staked out as his own, just for him. It doesn't change Colin's habits, relationship-wise, anyways. He's always hated public displays of affection. But Bradley... Bradley he doesn't know about.
"Is this okay with you?" Colin asks Bradley. They still don't like to cuddle after sex (Colin will never like to cuddle after sex), but they have figured out how to mutually splay in a way that involves one of them resting their arm and head on the other. Today, Colin has the dubious pleasure of being the pillow.
"I think I'm pretty good," Bradley says, turning his head and kissing the center of Colin's chest.
"I meant the keeping this - us - a secret."
"Oh," Bradley says thoughtfully. "Yeah, I mean, I'm not doing much different."
Colin's sex-addled brain puzzles over this a bit. He supposes this is true. Bradley is fairly demonstrative, slinging his arm over Colin's shoulders, flirting outrageously, fussing over how much Colin eats and if there's anything Colin might be allergic to hidden somewhere. Not anything Bradley hasn't always done for him, and Bradley isn't the type to hold hands or try and snog in public. The way Bradley acts is only different in private, when he kisses Colin hello and goodbye and then the times where he's slightly more naked. It's as if Bradley's been training everyone to the point where even if they did start kissing in front of everyone, they'd probably all laugh and put it on the blooper reel.
"Do you think we should tell anyone?" He asks finally. "I mean, since this is... I mean, it seems. It's rather permanent, yeah?"
Bradley's answering smile is so large and gorgeous it's almost blinding. "Permanent, huh."
"Yes, Bradley, permanent."
Bradley pretends to think about this for a moment before nodding. "I could live with that," he says finally, leaning up to kiss the corner of Colin's mouth. "Would suit me quite nicely, in fact."
"Good," Colin manages to get out before he's silenced by Bradley kissing him and kissing him, tracing his bony hips like they're something precious, smiling against Colin's mouth.
They decide not to sit down and talk to Johnny or Julian until the get back to Wales, which is one part cowardice and two parts who the fuck has time with this filming schedule. When they finally do call the meeting, Colin's pretty sure he's never been so nervous in his life, not for an audition, not for a performance, not when he called Bradley after Bradley kissed him, prepared to have to pretend it had never happened. He keeps wiping his sweaty palms on his jeans until Bradley crooks his index finger around Colin's. Not holding his hand, but comforting, all the same. Proof that Bradley and he are in this together.
"Look, they can't fire us," Bradley says quietly in the car over. "I read our contracts about a billion times each."
"Oh, thanks, Bradley," Colin says dryly. "That's really very comforting."
"Well, it should be. Come on. Stiff upper lip and all that." Colin manages to take Bradley's advice until they're all sitting in an office and Johnny's looking between them anxiously, trying to figure out why this meeting's been called.
"Look," Colin begins finally, "Look, I wanted to tell you, I mean, Bradley wanted to too. I mean, we -"
"Colin and I are together," Bradley interrupts, putting Colin out of his misery and grabbing one of his sweaty hands under the table where no one can see. "Romantically."
Johnny and Julian's faces are carefully neutral. "How long?" Julian finally asks.
"Two and a half months," Colin says at the same time Bradley says "Five or six months, about?"
Colin looks at Bradley. "You count when we weren't serious?" He asks quietly, wishing that Johnny and Julian would make noise or at least pretend they couldn't hear what was going on.
"Yeah," Bradley says, leaning in so Colin's blocked from view by his broad shoulders. "I just was, I was being a bit slow. But there wasn't anyone else so, so it counts. It counts to me."
"We'll talk about it later," Colin says, squeezing Bradley's hand, because Julian's starting to cough meaningfully. "We, uh, we weren't serious until three months ago," he explains when Bradley settles back into his chair. "But now, now we're..."
"Yeah," Bradley smiles, small and private and meant for Colin only, and Colin suddenly feels like this is an awful idea, like he and Bradley should be somewhere small and quiet, just the two of them, and no one else needs to come in and join them. "We wanted you to know. Since it looks like this isn't going away."
"Colin?" Julian asks.
"Yeah," Colin knows he should look at Julian when he answers him instead of staring at Bradley like the besotted moron he is, but he can't bring himself to look away. "It's permanent."
"Well," Johnny says from what feels like a great distance, "You two aren't in trouble if I have anything to say about it, but we're going to need to talk for a few minutes."
"Of course, take your time," Bradley says, all smooth and polite, and Colin thinks yes, take forever and never come back. "Colin," Bradley says when they're alone again, "Colin, are you okay?"
Colin just sighs, resting his head on Bradley's shoulder. "I don't know."
"It'll be fine," Bradley soothes, pulling Colin as close as sitting in two separate chairs will allow. "We just maybe should have agreed on what 'together' meant before."
"Yeah," Colin says, "I had no idea you felt like... Like that."
"And people think I'm the dim one," Bradley mutters, lifting Colin's face up and holding it in his hands so Colin has no choice but to stare straight at Bradley. "Listen, Colin, I'm sitting in the BBC Wales office with the people in charge of the best role I might ever have in my entire life, telling them I'm in a gay relationship with my co-star. So in case it's slipped your notice, I'm in love with you." Colin leans in to kiss him so he can get out of replying, but Bradley pulls back before he can connect. "Do you have anything to add, here?"
"Of course I love you," Colin rolls his eyes and kisses Bradley, just once, full and deep like they have all the time in the world, but they don't, because Johnny and Julian could come back at any moment and decide just kidding! They're all fired. Colin wishes he'd thought to bring his DS or that they kept magazines in the office. Bradley keeps saying stupid, annoying things like "Brace up, Colin," and "won't be long now, Colin", until Colin reminds him that just because he loves Bradley doesn't mean he won't murder him and dump him in the river. It takes an interminably long stretch of time, during which Colin has to talk himself down from cutting Bradley's jiggling foot off to teach him a lesson, before just Johnny returns.
"Right, so Julian is still on the phone sorting out a few details," he says, sitting down at the desk. "And Colin, stop looking like I shot your puppy, we're not telling you to break up."
"I don't have a puppy," Colin blurts out automatically, and he hears Bradley choke back laughter.
"Right," Johnny says. "Anyways, we see two options here. The two of you could either come out, which we'd support, or you could keep it on the down low, which you've been doing a fairly admirable job of already."
Bradley shoots Colin a quick look. "What does it mean, exactly, coming out?"
"It's a bit of a loaded question, with you two," Johnny admits. "Practically, to show you were out, you'd probably have to make some sort of announcement, because otherwise no one would really tell the difference."
Colin starts to laugh because he doesn't know how else to respond to that statement, but quickly turns it into a cough under Johnny's level glare that says I can stop being nice any time I want to, Morgan.
"I would expect, of course, a small bit of backlash, since this is a family show," Johnny goes on. "Definitely fans are going to go a bit nuts at first, but we're willing to support you there however you need. You should know that we won't have the show's romantic storylines changed to accommodate this, but the official word from London was along the lines of, 'you can't be worse than Russell Davies'."
Bradley laughs outright at that one, but Colin can't feel anything but panic. He reaches out for Bradley's hand again under the table and Bradley sobers instantly. His grip is reassuring and firm. "Well?" Bradley asks quietly.
"It's your choice," Colin's determined not to pressure Bradley, because this whole coming out and saying this is big, this is real makes Bradley happy, and Colin's willing to put up with anything if it'll make Bradley happy.
"Don't give me that, Morgan," Bradley says. "We'll talk about it at home, yeah?"
"Yeah, sure," Colin shrugs, relieved to get the hell out of this meeting.
"We're not coming out," Bradley says the second they get back to the flat the studio gave them to share while they're filming. Colin thinks, while he's shrugging out of his coat, that the producers really only have themselves to blame for this entire situation, because it's not like they didn't have money to get them all separate flats, honestly.
"Don't be an idiot," Colin says flatly, opening the refrigerator and rooting around for the leftover wrap he hadn't had the appetite to eat before they went.
"I'm not an idiot!" Bradley protests, following him into the kitchen and then back out when Colin takes his wrap to eat on the couch. "Look, do you even want to come out?"
"That's not the point," Colin says thickly. "The point is, you do, so we're doing it."
"How do you know what I want?" Bradley asks, filching a bit of pepper before Colin can swat him away.
"Because you get all happy whenever we out ourselves!" Colin says. "You get all smiley and excited. You like telling people things. And that's fine, Bradley, if telling people makes you happy, I'll tell people."
Bradley examines him silently for few moments before smiling fondly at Colin. "Idiot," he mutters, plucking the remains of the wrap from Colin's hands.
"I wasn't finished with that!" Colin yelps.
"Shut up," Bradley says, kissing him until Colin has no choice but to obey, even though he's hungry, goddammit, and he wants his food back. "I was just happy you cared about me enough to not keep me your little secret."
"Hey," Colin says feelingly. "You were never that."
"It's not an insult," Bradley hands back Colin's wrap. "I know how much you love your secrets."
"Well how was I supposed to tell you were testing me to see which I loved more?" Colin asks peevishly.
"By asking me instead of assuming things?" Bradley suggests. "I hear it's what normal people do, use language to communicate ideas. You could try it."
"Fine," Colin sighs. "I love you more than I love secrets. Are you happy?"
"Yes," Bradley says, smiling at Colin and handing back the food, watching while Colin finishes his wrap. He bats away the aluminum foil the second Colin's done so he can cradle the back of his head and kiss him, gently hungry, like he's trying to taste Colin and his lunch in equal measure. "You can still have whatever secrets you want," Bradley says, and then sucks lightly on the edge of Colin's bottom lip very, very distracting manner. "Just don't keep me as one of them."
"I don't love secrets like you think I do," Colin says. "I don't even have any to speak of."
"Really?" Bradley arches an eyebrow. "Not a one?"
"Well," Colin says, his face as perfectly straight as he can. "There was that rash of brutal murders a few years back, but no one could tie it to me and it couldn't be proven in a court of law."
"Colin..." Bradley chokes, like he's trying very hard not to laugh.
"I mean, I did have a knife set that matched the butcher knife found on the last victim, but they didn't have any evidence to tie it to me. Though they do say Hitler was a vegetarian too, so I guess you really never can tell..."
"Oh, shut up," Bradley says, whacking Colin with a throw pillow.
"Colin?" Bradley asks quietly from behind him when Colin's half asleep later that night. He moves in close and runs a hand down Colin's arm.
"What?" Colin grunts, opening one eye.
"You didn't really, did you?" Bradley asks. "Murder someone, I mean."
"No, Bradley," Colin sighs. "I did not murder anyone."
"Not that I thought you did," Bradley assures him. "It's just that you're getting a little too good at that whole dark-humor-deadpan thing."
"Bradley," Colin repeats, "I have never murdered anyone."
"Good," Bradley says, settling back down.
Colin waits a few minutes until Bradley's breathing is starting to even out before he goes "Kidnapping, on the other hand..."
"Jesus Christ," Bradley yelps, clapping his hand over Colin's mouth, and all Colin can do is laugh and laugh.
They have to come out to the cast and crew. It's not even a question, really. Angel and Katie are horrible snoops, but they have nothing on the makeup and props departments, and they probably haven't been found out yet just by sheer luck. Colin figures they can either come out on their own terms and set some rules, or they can have the whole thing blow up fantastically in their faces. And honestly, he isn't fond of either option.
"This is your fault," he tells Bradley. "If only you hadn't kissed me, none of this would be a problem."
"Oh, and then we'd both be pining instead of having sex?" Bradley snorts, putting down his script edits. "That's an excellent plan, Colin. Really genius of you."
"And I suppose you have a better suggestion?" Colin asks, glaring down at Bradley, who's all sprawled and lazy and smirking. He's trying to be distracting, and it's working.
"Tell Anthony and Richard," Bradley says, tossing down his edits. "We know they can keep themselves to themselves."
"That doesn't actually solve the problem, you know," Colin sighs, resting his arms and head on the back of the couch.
"Yeah, but we might as well have a trial run first, yeah? Figure out the best way to do this."
Colin laughs humorlessly. "How hard can it be? I go up to Richard and go 'guess who I'm shagging, Richard?'"
"I think you can manage a bit more finesse than that," Bradly says, sitting up and putting his chin next to Colin's so he can look him directly in the eye. "But no matter how you do it, he'll probably end up throwing you a bloody parade."
"I might believe that if you weren't my co-star," Colin sighs. "People usually have principles about these sorts of things."
"Bah," Bradley snorts. "Principles."
"If only..." Colin begins, and then stops himself. There were too many if onlys to even bother contemplating. If only things had gone a bit differently, if Colin or Bradley had never auditioned or never been cast, if only Bradley had decided to play football and Colin had decided becomming an actor was too big a dream, if only they'd met in some other time or place, they wouldn't be going through any of this. They'd be out and things wouldn't be easy, precisely, but they'd be hard in an easier, less bizarre way. And if only Bradley hadn't been so lovely, then Colin wouldn't have fallen for him. If only Bradley had never kissed him before he left for Mull. If only one of them had said no to any sort of arrangement. If only Bradley didn't love him back so well, he'd think that this relationship would all blow over and none of it was worth the fuss. He'd see an end to this the way he'd seen an end to all his other relationships, instead of having half-formed thoughts about the future, he'd be waiting for that other shoe to fall.
"Don't," Bradley says, as if he can hear what Colin is thinking. "No point in that now. What's done is done."
"I wouldn't change it," Colin says quietly. "Not any of it. Except, maybe, clearing up things a bit earlier instead of you pining like a teenaged girl -"
"Hey," Bradley interrupts feelingly, but his mouth has quirked into his crooked, satisfied smile.
" - But I wouldn't change it." Colin finishes.
"Good," Bradley says, letting Colin draw him in to kiss him, proprietary and lush and just as distracting as Bradley splayed out on the couch in their flat with his t-shirt rucked up and his feet bare was, kept kissing him until Bradley was practically crawling over the back of the couch to get his hands on more of Colin.
"And now," Colin says, pulling away to catch his breath, "I think I'll leave you to your very important work."
"You will not." Bradley yanks Colin over the couch and on top of him, sprawling and all limbs. "You'll stay here and finish what you started."
"Well," Colin sighs. "If I must."