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Listen To My Voice (It's My Disguise)

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“So how was it?” Bradley murmurs into the phone, huddled under the covers on the bed in his and Colin’s hotel room and feeling the absence of the Irishman like he imagines he would feel the absence of a limb; he knows he can function fairly well without it, but it still feels like a fundamental part of him is missing, and it’s pushed him all out of whack.

“It was alright,” Colin replies, and Bradley sighs softly at being able to hear Colin’s voice again even if he isn’t able to see his mouth form the words. “Someone gave me some peanut butter!” he exclaims, and Bradley has to laugh at how childish Colin gets over Skippy, whilst simultaneously squashing down the urge to tell Colin that he’ll buy him as much Peanut Butter as he wants, will even order it over from the United States, as long as it means that Colin will come back to him.

Logically, Bradley is aware that him missing Colin so much is slightly pathetic; they’ve spent time apart in the 3 years that they’ve been together, and Bradley’s never been affected this badly before. Part of it, he thinks, is due to the fact that Colin is in an entirely different country to himself; that if Bradley needed Colin urgently it would take him at least 12 hours before he was back in Britain let alone ready to rush to the rescue. Mostly, though, Bradley knows that he is affected so badly because Colin is at Comic-Con, with Katie and Angel, and though he knows it isn’t their fault, Bradley feels irrationally like they’re in primary school and he’s been left to sit on his own whilst everyone else played together.

Katie, Colin and Angel have been emailing Bradley at regular intervals during the day and keeping him updates, so Bradley knows that they’re not isolating him on purpose – even if they hadn’t kept in contact, Bradley would have know they weren’t intending to ostracize him – but still, he feels like he’s missing out. He loves Comic-Con! Plus, he was looking forward to doing the panel and answering questions and doing signings, because Bradley loves nothing better than thanking the people who make it possible for him to don the chainmail and pick up the sword and become one of the most legendary kings of England. Apparently, though, his filming schedule was ‘too busy’ to allow him to go - although, to be honest, he hadn’t done all that much today, and he doubts he’ll do much tomorrow - and so he’s stuck back in England with only the rain for company, whilst the three main characters are ‘across the pond’ as the famous colloquialism states, enjoying the company of each other and the fans in the San Diego sunshine.

“-adley. Bradley!”

The aforementioned jolts back into awareness as Colin’s voice raises in pitch and volume, and he realises that he’s lost almost 5 minutes of his limited phone times with Colin to self pity, and gives himself a mental smack to the head and tell himself to man up. “Sorry, sorry, I’m here,” he hastens to say. Colin makes a quiet sound of assent but Bradley still feels the need to qualify, and so continues. “I was just thinking. What was it you said?”

Colin chuckles lowly, and the sound sends a jolt of heat straight to Bradleys groin, something which he would be inclined to follow up – possibly with phone sex, which he’s never tried before, but he’s sure would be extremely easy what with the fact that Colin’s voice is basically sex, even if he had difficulty understanding him in past – but as it’s currently almost 2am, Bradley tells his libido to shut the fuck up and go to sleep. Call him a sap, but Bradley  has a maximum of 15 minutes left on the phone with Colin before he falls asleep and Colin goes back to doing convention-things, and he’d rather spend those minutes talking to Colin about his day. “I said, how was your day?”

“The usual; make-up, filming, getting the train home,” Bradley carefully neglects to mention that he’d sat with his headphones in for the whole of the train ride, and he’s fairly sure he had a suitably miserable look on his face, if the sympathetic glances that were shot his way when he got to his stop were any indication. Usually, he’d feel bad for lying to Colin, but in this instance, he’s choosing to think of it more as an omission of the truth, and comforts himself with the thought that Colin knowing Bradley is miserable will just make Colin miserable in turn.

“Sounds like fun,” Colin says, though with an edge of sarcasm to his tone, and Bradley can just imagine Colin sitting on a sofa somewhere in his hotel room, twirling the chord to the phone through his freakishly capable fingers and rolling his eyes slightly at Bradleys unfortunate schedule. “I don’t really understand why you couldn’t come, you know,” he says, almost hesitantly, and Bradley’s heart aches a little when he realises that it’s because Colin is afraid of upsetting him.

“Obviously because they can’t rule Camelot without the King,” Bradley says, “And without me, who would control those pesky knights?”

“Mhmm,” Colin laughs, “That’s obviously what it is. The whole Merlin set would collapse in on itself without Bradley James there for the weekend,”

Bradley gasps in mock outrage, “Excuse me, Mr. Morgan, but I’ll have you know that I’m the glue that keeps this show together!”

“Yeah, I’m sure. I’ll make sure to remember in future,”

“Yeah, you better. Hey Colin?”

“Yes Bradley?”

Bradley takes a deep breath before admitting “I miss you,” alongside all of the air inside his lungs. Bradley’s usually pretty verbally affectionate with Colin – with everyone, actually – but being left alone has made him strangely hesitant to saying the words, in case Colin doesn’t return them.

“I miss you too, you daft bastard,” Colin says, accent thick with affection and it makes Bradley heart swell and his breath catch in his throat, the same effect as hearing Colin say ‘I love you’ has on him, despite having heard Colin say it a million times. “You miss the sex don’t you?” Colin asks, and Bradley huffs out a laugh.

“Of course I do. You’re a hot piece of arse Col, or weren’t you aware of that?” As much as what he’s saying is true, Bradley hopes that Colin can hear the real meaning behind the words with him having to explain them, because even after all the years he doesn’t quite know how to articulate to Colin that he misses him even when there only separated by a couple of rooms; that he misses the smell of Colin’s skin and the touch of Colin’s hand where it rests against his and the texture of Colin’s hair between his fingers. He doesn’t know to explain that he misses the hitches in Colin’s breath when he runs his fingers over his ridiculously sensitive ears; that he misses Colin’s legs resting in his lap whilst they watch TV; that he misses how Colin somehow manages to take up all of a double bed, completely at odds with his slim frame.

“Oh yeah,” Colin says, “Such a hot piece. I’m smoking,”

“I should hope not,” Bradley jokes, “It’s bad for you,”

“Har dee har har,” Colin deadpans, before going quiet, and Bradley hears and soundsplosion that must be Katie and Angel entering the room. “Oh goody. The terrible twins are here,” Bradley’s green monster emerges at that, claws at the ready and fully extended, because that means Colin is going to have to leave and do fun things with Katie and Colin whilst he lays in bed and stares at the ceiling because apparently he can’t sleep without Colin hogging the covers and elbowing him every time he tosses and turns.

Deciding – somewhat childishly – that he’d rather hang up the phone than be hung up on – a philosophy he followed in the younger years, when he dumped the first girl he ever went out with because he was sure she was going to dump him first (it turns out she wasn’t) – Bradley interrupts the conversation on the other end of the phone with an exaggerated cough.

“Yes Bradley?” Colin says in a tone that makes it blatantly clear he knows what Bradley’s doing and is amused by it.

Blushing lightly, Bradley says “I think I’m going to turn in now,” and even though he’s having difficulty keeping his eyes open, Bradley hopes that Colin tries to stop him going, tries to keep him on the phone and talking.

Of course, Colin being Colin understands instantly that Bradley is close to falling asleep, and would never be so selfish as to keep Bradley awake. “Okay. We’re heading out now anyway. I’ll phone you tomorrow after the Merlin Panel tomorrow, yeah?”

“I’ll be here,” Bradley murmurs sleepily, burrowing down into the duvet. “G’night Colin,”

“Goodnight Bradley.” Colin says fondly, and Bradley can faintly make out Katie and Angel saying the same in the background. “I love you,”

“I love you too, Col,” Bradley says, and he registers Colin disconnecting the call before he drops into sleep, faster than he’d expected he would but comforted but the sound of the man he loves.

***

Halfway around the world, Colin sits with his back against the wall of his hotel room and legs drawn up, and listens to Bradley’s breathing even out before hanging up the phone.

“Come along, Colin,” Angel trills as her and Katie haul him into standing position. “Don’t worry about Bradley. We’ll buy him lots of presents to make up for him not being here.”

“I’m sure he’ll greatly appreciate it,” Colin concedes and allows both Katie and Angel to link arms with him and drag him to wherever they want to go.