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Take Me By The Tongue (Kiss Me 'Til I'm Drunk)

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When Katie announces to what practically amounts to the entire cast of Merlin that they’re spending their Saturday night at a salsa class, Angel squeals predictably and exclaims that she’s always wanted to learn salsa. Meanwhile, the male portion of the cast - which is, to be honest, the larger section – whines about how emasculating the whole concept of salsa dancing is. All except Colin, who actually, dare Bradley think it, looks excited at the prospect of spending his Saturday night in dance shoes.

Bradley decides to assume it’s an Irish quirk rather than a Colin quirk, although it wouldn’t surprise him if Colin did like dancing. Colin’s interest in the class is not enough to change Bradley’s mind into agreeing to go, however, because he may love Colin but even Colin Morgan’s stupid ears and stupid hair and stupid stupid smile aren’t enough to convince Bradley James that dancing is preferable to getting wasted.

No sir.

^

“I thought my stupid ears and stupid hair and stupid smile weren’t enough to convince you to come?” Colin asks Bradley with a smile on his lips, when Bradley climbs into a taxi with him and Angel, and Bradley scowls because Colin is laughing at him and that isn’t allowed. “Oh, c’mon James, no pouting allowed. It’s cast bonding night!”

“I’m not pouting,” he sulks, but his scowl (not a pout) gives way to a reluctant grin when Colin widens his eyes and pokes his tongue out of the corner of his mouth, because damn, Bradley never has been able to resist Colin, no matter what he tells himself. “What the hell do we need cast bonding night for anyway? You people realise that we’re on season four now, right? We’ve been a cast for over three years. I could only be bonded to you people more if we were attached by handcuffs,” and oh, that’s an interesting idea, Colin in handcuffs. Preferably attached to a bed. Bradley makes a metal note to revisit that particular fantasy again later when he’s on his own.

“Trust me, that can be arranged,” and Bradley does not yelp when Katie slides into the taxi because he is a grown man and even Katie McGrath and her ninja ways and excellent cleavage don’t scare him .“And anyway, we may have been together for 3 years, but most of the knights are new, and we want to be accommodating, don’t we?” The grin that Katie aims at Bradley is truly terrifying – as are her nails which are long and uncomfortably nears to Bradley’s persons for him to even think about not agreeing with her – so he just nods and tells Katie he’s thrilled about the team bonding, and he’s going to be grownup and mature for the whole evening.

In fact, he’s so mature that he resists the urge to stick out his tongue at Colin and Angel when they smother laughs behind their hands. He doesn’t quite curb the desire to call Angel a hussy though, especially when she mouths ‘whipped’ at him when she thinks Katie’s not looking.

^

“Okay, so here’s what going to happen,” Katie announces when everyone is convened outside of the village hall that Bradley assumes is where the dance lessons are being held. “There’s a beginners class at eight-thirty, which we’re all going to do, since I assume none of you know any ceroc moves.”

“Ceroc?” Bradley asks, because hell, salsa was bad enough, but he’s never even heard of Ceroc and knowing Katie it’s probably pole dancing or something similar. She’d probably be good at it as well.

Katie sighs as if Bradley has asked a particularly stupid question, which he thinks is slightly unfair because everyone else has a look of confusion on their faces.  “Yes, Bradley. Ceroc. Did you not listen when I explained this the other day?”

“Ermm, well, no?” Bradley says, fluttering his eyelashes at Katie in the vain hope that his cute, innocent face will dissuade her from castrating him with a rusty spoon. When all he sees in response is her kohl-rimmed eyes narrowing by a further couple of millimetres he decides to hell with protecting his fellow cast-members; if he’s going to have his balls removed in a way that will probably end up with him catching some kind of infection, then the others can damn well suffer the same fate. “In my defence, no one else was listening either.”

“I resent that implication!” Eoin says in mock outrage, hand over his heart. He turns to Katie. “I would never, ever disrespect you by not listening whilst you were talking. Real men listen!” It’s such a terrible monologue, and a blatant lie, so Bradley expects Katie to give Eoin the same treatment as she gives him; fondness tinged with exasperation and irritation because Katie is obviously the mother of their merry band of men (and women), and likes to boss them around (Bradley has suspicions that Katie is a dominatrix in her spare time, but chooses not to dwell on that image because, unlike Rihanna, he never has and never will find whips and chains exciting).

Therefore, he gasps in incredulity when Katie simply smiles are Eoin and pats him on the cheek. “This is racism!” He cries, and everyone raises their eyebrows in unison, which is really creepy and Bradley would appreciate it if they wouldn’t do that in the future, thank you very much. “You only let him off because he’s Irish.” Even Colin looks bemused after his proclamation and Bradley despairs because him and Colin are bonded and if Colin doesn’t understand him then who will?

“Why would I do that?” Katie asks with laughter in her tone, and Bradley... didn’t think that far. Why would Katie favour her fellow Irishmen? He doesn’t know – other than because it’s an excuse to pick on Bradley and his non-irish personality - so he just shrugs with a slightly sheepish expression and  goes to stand next to Colin who pats Bradley on the head comfortingly, and Bradley has to resist the urge to purr, or something similar, because he is not a cat.

“Anyway,” Angel says, drawing out the sounds so that the word lasts for approximately four times longer than it usually does. “As Katie was saying, there’s the class at eight-thirty, and then freestyle for half an hour. Then at half-past-nine the intermediate – that’s means difficult, Bradley – starts.”

“I know what intermediate means!” Bradley cries over the sound of the rest of the group laughing and then folds his arms over his chest when no one stops, not even Colin, which is horrible, and Colin laughing at him seems to be a recurring theme this evening.

“Pouting,” Colin chides gently whist Katie takes over Angel’s explanation, and Bradley reluctantly relaxes his face. “Better,” Colin smiles, and Bradley ignores the butterflies in his stomach that start fluttering madly.

“-and then there’s more freestyle until eleven. Okay?” Every nods – which, of course they do, because no one wants to face the wrath of McGrath – and Katie smiles, satisfied. “It’s twenty-five past now, we should probably go in.” She says, and then proceeds to link arms with Angel and lead the way in.

^

“I cannot believe we paid twenty quid for this shit,” Rupert says, and Bradley privately agrees.

They’re leaning against the wall with a pint in their hands, watching the disco lights as people waltz across the makeshift dance floor. Bradley was watching Colin dance with a pretty brunette, jealousy thrumming thick through his veins, but he’s long since lost them in the mass of bodies. He’s not sure where Katie is either, although he assumes she’s off dancing too, and Angel seems to be having a great time with a skinny guy who has a total lack of coordination, and dances like he’s having a fit.

It turns out, that Bradley, whilst great with a sword and pretty capable with a football is terrible at dancing. He would feel bad about it, but the rest of the Knights were the same, although Tom was better than most, at odds with his height and bulk, Bradley thinks.

Bradley had opted to stop dancing the third time he stood on his partners foot, and the rest of them – Rupert, Tom, Eoin, Adetomiwa – had trickled over to join him when they inevitable injured their partners. If Katie confronted them about it, they decided, they would say it was for the safety of the people. It wouldn’t be a lie.

Col seems to be enjoying it,” Eoin points out, and it’s true; Colin’s cheeks are flushed and his eyes are bright and his smile is blinding and it all serves to make Bradley throat tight and his heart clench in his chest because that expression is never aimed at him, so how come a stranger Colin’s never met before have that effect?

“Yes, well,” Bradley grumbles, taking another sip of his drink and resting his shoulders more comfortable against the wall.

He spends the rest of the evening with his eyes on Colin, and resists the urge to stalk over and claim ownership over Colin, every time he changes partner and graces another pretty woman with a beaming smile.

^

When everyone eventually manages to drag Katie and Colin off of the dance floor, it’s gone past eleven, and Bradley just wants to get back to the hotel and go to sleep, even as he feels pathetic for going to bed this early on a Friday night. He’s not so tired, however, that he doesn’t notice the way Colin and Katie are holding hands, and sharing secret smiles, and whispering in each other’s ears like school children.

The sight of it leaves a bitter taste at the back of his mouth, and so Bradley’s maybe a bit harsher than usual when he says “Well. That was a shit idea.” And shoves open the door leading to the refreshingly cold outside air. The shock of it against his skin manages to sober his up slightly, and judging by the groans coming from Tom and Eoin, it has the same effect on them.

An expression of hurt flickers briefly over Katie’s face, and Bradley has a moment to regret his words before Katie schools a look if disaffection over her features. “Some of us enjoyed it, James,” Bradley winces, and Katie carries on, her tone acidic. “It is not my fault that you didn’t even try and do the dancing properly, not is it my fault that you couldn’t find a partner who could stomach your stupid face for longer than one dance, so I am sorry that you didn’t enjoy tonight but I won’t apologise for planning something that everyone could get involved with for once, instead of your stupid piss-ups , that only the guys are invited to because you are a sexist pig.

Bradley can only stare after Katie as she stalks towards the nearest taxi with Colin and Angel in tow, with what he’s sure is a shocked expression on his face, because he knows that he’s gotten on Katie’s nerves over the years – he’s gotten on everyone’s nerves at some point in the last couple of years. It is, after all, his special skill – but she has never blown up at him like that.

“That was possibly a tad harsh, mate,” Adetomiwa says, disapproval thick in his tone, but Bradley is too busy staring at the taxi pulling away and realizing that he just lost his ride to pay attention, until Rupert answers his fellow knight.

“Maybe, but Kate’s answer wasn’t exactly polite, was it?” He says, and Bradley can’t help but nod in agreement because Katie was mean to him and now his ego is hurt but Rupert, wonderful Rupert, the Leon to his Arthur, the Second-In-Command to his, uh, First-In-Command, is soothing it over with his kind words. Bradley only realises that he’s said the last few sentences out loud instead of in his head when everyone else starts laughing, and he makes a mental note to get his brain-to-mouth filter fixed before he does something ridiculous like tell Colin he’s in love with him next time Col brings him milk on set, or plays pranks on Angel with him.

“I knew it!” Eoin crows, and Bradley blushes. Right. Said that out loud as well. Brilliant. Eoin holds out his hand triumphantly, palm up, and Bradley splutters with disbelief when Tom and Rupert both put money in it.

“You- You bet on it? You bet on me, being in love with Colin?”

“Umm...”

“Yes, thank you Tom, that really clears it up,” Bradley rolls his eyes at the man because honestly, he knows Percival doesn’t speak much, but Tom has actually seemed quite vocal, except, apparently, when it really matters. Such as when Bradley wants to know why his cast mates have been betting on his (non-existent) love life.

A taxi pulls up to the curb next to them at this moment, and whilst all five of them are clambering into it and giving the driver the address of their hotel, Bradley considers which of the four with him will be most likely to give up the information. When they are comfortably on their way to their destination, Bradley, having decided that Eoin is most likely to fold – Bradley makes the (correct) assumption that Eoin will want to gloat about his winning of the bet – turns to the Irishman and raises one eyebrow at him, an intimidation tactic he had learned (well, stolen, but semantics) from Katie.

It doesn’t have the desired effect if the fact that Eoin bursts into startled laughter is any indication.

“That so does not look scary on you,” Eoin says when he stops chuckling, and Bradley frowns, a quiet ‘oh’ making its way past his lips. “It’s okay though, we’ll still tell you.” When Eoin doesn’t elaborate after a few seconds, Bradley makes a ‘carry on’ gesture, and Eoin just pulls a face.

“It’s not that we were betting on you being in love with Colin, as such,” Tom says when it’s clear that Eoin isn’t going to continue speaking, apparently content to just watch.

“Nah, we knew that already,” Rupert interrupts, and Bradley wonders whether Colin knows as well, since it’s apparently obvious to the whole world and his wife that Bradley’s arse over tit for his best friend. His worry either shows on his face, or Rupert is eerily perceptive, because he hastens to add, “Don’t worry, Colin’s still oblivious, we think.”

“Even if he wasn’t, it wouldn’t matter. He’s in love with you too.” Bradley is certain that if he had a drink in his mouth at this moment in time, it would be comically spat all over his friends, because the notion is absurd. There is no way that Colin Morgan, who spent the night staring dreamily at women is anything other than straight as an arrow, and is definitely not in love with him.

“So, what? The bet was which one of us would admit to it first?” Bradley asks, his tone tinged with desperation. Eoin nods and Bradley has to smother a hysterical laugh because his friends are most definitely on some kind of drugs to think that Colin’s feelings for Bradley are anything but platonic.

It doesn’t stop him feeling ridiculously hopeful the entire way home though.

^

 A week later, Bradley bounces over to Colin after their final scene and slings his arms around his shoulders. “Col. Col. Col. Col. Colin. Col.”

Colin laughs, his breath tickling Bradley’s ear and Bradley’s knees do not go weak because he is not some stereotypical blonde haired, blue eyed Hollywood heroine, except for an unfortunate similarity in features, which is so not his fault. Blame his parents. “Yes Bradley?”

“Wanna watch a film?”

“I- Uh- I can’t,” Colin stutters out apologetically and Bradley’s jaw drops in what is a terribly unattractive expression because, last week’s foray into Latin dancing aside, Friday Nights are his and Colin’s Night.

Ever since they started filming Merlin, whenever they don’t have a Saturday morning call Bradley has gone over to Colin’s hotel room (or vice versa) and watched a film on either of their laptops, whilst playing drinking games that manage to get them drunk within the first thirty minutes of the film. The night’s usually end with Bradley wrapped around Colin on the bed, because Bradley is always tactile but that increases tenfold when he has lowered inhibitions and what feels like more vodka than blood flowing through his veins, and Colin usually doesn’t have the energy to push Bradley away.

Of course, the morning usually starts with Bradley sliding out of bed first and jerking off in the bathroom with his knuckles between his teeth to muffle his groans, because the last thing he wants is for Colin to wake up whilst he’s in there.

It would only be slightly more embarrassing than Colin waking up whilst Bradley is still pressed against him, only to find Bradley’s erection pressed to his arse, because wow, that’s one conversation Bradley never wants to have. ‘Hi Colin, yes, basically, what it is, is that I have a huge gay boner for you. I know you’re straight, and that’s perfectly fine with me, but do you think it would be weird if we could still sleep together, just so I can add the delicious sounds you make whilst you’re dreaming to my wankbank? Thanks mate.’ Just... no.

“Why not?”

“I, uh, promised Eoin I would do something with him. You know, Irishman to Irishman.” Colin smiles at Bradley, but it’s too wide and stretched too thin and is not fooling Bradley, not one bit. Colin’s hiding something, but it’s blatantly something he doesn’t want Bradley to know, and so Bradley reluctantly acts like he buys Colin’s stupid see-through excuse, even though he knows that Eoin is going out tonight with some poor girl he pulled last time his went to a pub (a.k.a. last night. The man is far more like his character than is comfortable sometimes).

“Oh I see,” he says, and Colin fidgets nervously, playing with the cuffs of his sleeves. His face takes on a panicked look, but it quickly smooths out when Bradley jokingly carries on. “This is more racism.”

“Well you know us Irish. Always stick together, eh?”

“Yes, well. Prejudiced towards us English you lot,” Bradley propels Colin towards the door with his hands on his shoulders. “Go. Have fun catching leprechauns and drinking Guinness!”

 “I will. Have fun thinking in stereotypes,” Colin looks over his shoulder at Bradley and smiles, a genuine smile that takes Bradley’s breath away. “We’ll watch a film tomorrow, yeah?”

As he watches Colin turn the corner, Bradley can’t help but think it won’t be the same.

^

Bradley ends up ordering himself a takeaway and eating it whilst sat in bed watching episodes of White Collar because if Matt Bomer’s face can’t cheer him up about Colin lying to him, nothing can.

It doesn’t cheer him up.

He thinks about opening up the bottle of whiskey he knows is somewhere in his room, either stashed in his suitcase of his drawer but decides against it, because getting drunk on his own, in his room on a Friday night, at the age of twenty nine is really and truly the height of pathetic-ness.

Of course, so is wanking to the thought of a co-worker, but it never stopped him before and it doesn’t stop him now.

Bradley falls asleep with come drying across his stomach because he’s too lazy to get up and clean himself up, and it’s not like anyone’s going to be there to see him in the morning, anyway.

^

True to his word, the next night Colin stops by Bradley’s room with a pile of movies –including Scott Pilgrim vs. The World which is a dick move because Colin knows that Scott Pilgrim is Bradleys Favourite Ever Film, capital letters and all – and a bag of chilli Doritos.

Bradley snatches the Doritos and hugs them to his chest before begrudgingly (but not really, because he can’t stay mad at Colin) stepping to the side and letting his door swing open. “Come in then,” he grumbles, and Colin does, laying on the bed and taking up all of the available space, as per usual.

“How was last night with Eoin?” Bradley asks as he walks over to the desk in the corner of the room to pick up his laptop.

“Hmm?”

“Last night. With Eoin. Irish Bonding. With Leprechauns. How was it?” Bradley speaks slowly, enunciating each word and drawing it out as though speaking to someone particularly dim-witted. He grins when Colin flips him off and then settles on the bed, feet poking into Colin’s side

Colin pushes Bradley’s feet away from him, and Bradley hides a frown, because Colin never pushes him away. “It was fine. Nothing special. How was your night?”

“Oh, um, it was okay. Watched White Collar and had an early night. Like I said, okay.”

“Good. Now start the feckin’ film,”

Bradley obliges.

^

Later that night, when Colin has fallen asleep before the end of the film, Bradley takes a risk and runs his hand through Colin’s hair, just once. Colin snuffles in his sleep and Bradley quickly removes the offending limb, turning on his side to face away from Colin, for once.

The hours tick by and the sky gets darker and Colin shifts to tangle his legs with Bradley’s and still, Bradley doesn’t sleep. Eventually, deciding that little sleep is better than no sleep, Bradley gently untangles his and Colin’s legs and turns to face him, slinging an arm around his skinny waist and pressing his forehead to the base of Colin’s neck and breathing in deeply.

As he drifts off to sleep, Bradley tries not to think about the fact that he’d woken up when Colin had got home last night, and he hadn’t been alone if the giggling Bradley had heard was any indication.

Bradley doesn’t much like what that suggests about his chances with Colin; if they were small before, they’re now damn near impossible.

^

Bradley expects Colin’s ditching of Friday Night Movie Night to be a onetime thing, because Colin doesn’t mention it again, nor does he mention the mysterious female he was accompanied by.

He turns out to be wrong.

Every Friday night Colin makes a different excuse as to why he can’t watch a film with Bradley, and every Friday night Bradley accepts it and pushes down the urge to either tease Colin rotten about the fact that he’s going on dates or demand to know who the bitch is that is taking Colin from him.

Every Friday night Bradley stays up until Colin gets home, and every Friday night Bradley feels like something is wrong with his heart when he hears Colin laughing with someone who’s not him before they enter his room.

^

After four weeks of spending Friday night alone and sober, Bradley decided to hell with it and drinks a half a bottle of vodka in the space of an hour hoping it will make him feel better.

It doesn’t.

All it actually achieves is Bradley getting steaming drunk and throwing up in the shower which his intoxicated mind thinks is a good idea at the time. He wakes up with a hangover the size of Jupiter, a mouth like someone died in it and the worry that he did something stupid the night before.

After checking the call log on his phone and ascertaining that he hadn’t called Colin and professed his love for him, Bradley decides that he’s never getting drunk again unless there someone who will be sharing his pain the next morning.

That strategy lasts until the next time Colin says he can’t make Movie Night – this time his excuse is that he’s going to the pub with Angel which Bradley knows is a lie because Angel has already told him that she’s going home for the weekend, but Bradley doesn’t have the energy to dispute it anymore – and then Bradley gives up and cracks open the whiskey.

The second hangover is no better than the first.

^

10 weeks after Bradley is abandoned by Colin – abandoned may be too harsh a word, because it’s not like Colin doesn’t talk to him anymore, but still, abandoned is how he feels - Eoin and Tom convince him to go clubbing with them.

By the time the knock comes at his door, Bradley has already been drinking for a good half an hour, so it’s on unsteady feet that he staggers to the door. When he opens it, it’s to find Eoin and Tom standing there, and Eoin whistles softly when he sees Bradley.

“Getting started already, eh Bradders?” he grins. “What happened? Boyfriend dump you?”

Despite knowing that Eoin is joking, Bradley still glares at the man. “Shut up, Macken. What d’you want?”

“We’re going out. Wanna come?” Somehow, the two knights manage to convince him, which is how Bradley finds himself surrounded by pretty women as he lurks by the bar in a club he’s never heard of but is assured is trendy.

Unlike both Tom and Eoin, Bradley doesn’t pull anyone whilst he’s there, although there are a couple of people, men and women alike, who catch his eye. Even though he knows that Colin is probably fucking whomever he’s on a date with right now (or at least, that’s what Bradley assumes, because why else would Colin have ditched their Movie Nights for over two months?), it still feels like it would be wrong of Bradley to engage in intercourse of any kind.

Still, it doesn’t stop him from dancing, with alcohol thrumming through his bloodstream, and the music loud in his ears, making his heart beat in time with the bass. And if he kisses someone underneath the flashing lights, wet and filthy and everything he wants from Colin, then who’s going to know?

^

During the cab ride home, Bradley stares out of the window at the streets flooded with lights, head still fuzzy from the alcohol, although the cool air had sobered him up somewhat on the journey between the club and the car.

He tries to ignore Tom and Eoin sucking face with their respective pick-ups next to him, and smiles, because it may not have been an evening with Colin, but he had fun.

^

The next week Bradley goes out again, but on his own this time. He picks up a skinny bloke with black hair and big ears and fucks him over the sofa in his hotel room.

When he’s lying in bed after kicking the guy out – what even was his name? Carl? Kyle? Christopher? Bradley doesn’t know and doesn’t much care – tears leak out of the side of his eyes and he tried to pretend that it was Colin’s name he called out when he came, that he hadn’t picked the guy purely for his resemblance to Colin.

He finds it difficult to look Colin in the eyes for the next couple of days.

^

“So how’s your girlfriend?” Bradley asks when he and Colin are watching Katie and Angel film a scene, the first scene in this block at Pierrefonds, and Colin promptly chokes on the water he was sipping.

“What?”

“Well, I just assumed, y’know. You’ve been out every weekend for a while now. I just, y’know, assumed you were dating someone and didn’t want me to know. Which is, y’know, which is fine, you don’t have to tell me everything, but, I just thought you’d tell me about this,”

“I do not have a girlfriend!” Colin exclaims, and Bradley feels a simultaneous jolt of hope that it’s true and disappointment that Colin is lying to him, even after being confronted. “Why would you even think that?”

“I, well, I saw you,” Bradley says.

“When?”

“A couple of weeks ago, on Friday night. I saw you, getting into a cab, with a girl.”

Colin furrows his brow in confusion for a moment, before his eyes crinkle up at the corners as he smiles. “That was Katie, you eejit. I told you we were going to watch a film. And I asked you if you wanted to come.”

“Oh...” Now that he thinks about it, Bradley thinks he does remember Colin inviting him to go watch some film or another, but Bradley was still full of shame after his ill-conceived one night stand, plus, it had sounded a bit too arty-farty for his tastes.

“Ye gods man,” Colin laughs. “You truly are a dimwit.”

“Excuse me?” Bradley clutches his heart, and gasps. “Which one of us here is a Prince, and which one of us is a lowly servant, hmmm?”

“You may be a prince hotshot, but I’m a sorcerer. And I’ve saved your arse more times than I can count. You’d be dead a hundred times over without me without me.”

It’s at that moment that Julian calls “Cut,” and Katie and Angel shake of their Gwen and Morgana personas before heading over to join Bradley and Colin.

“Hey loser, Colin.” Katie smirks, smoothing out the skirts of her dress and then squeezing herself to sit between the two boys. She sits with her back against the wall and stares out across the courtyard, and sighs, the movement of her shoulders jostling Bradley.  “I love it in France at this time of year.”

“I know. It’s beautiful,” Angel says from her spot beside Bradley. “We should come back, when this is all over. When Merlin’s finished. Come for a holiday, just the four of us?”

“What about Colin’s girlfriend?” Bradley teases, and Colin reaches around Katie to smack his around the head.

^

“I think Katie and Colin are together,” Angel says in lieu of greeting when Bradley opens the door to his hotel room.

“Umm, okay?” Bradley says, and scrubs a hand through his hair. “I knew that though.”

“You knew?

“Ermmm, yeah? He told me they were going out for lunch. I assumed it was an Irish bonding thing?”

Angel shoulders past him and throws herself on the bed – on his bed, which no, excuse him, only he is allowed on his bed - with her pretty face set in a frown. “I didn’t mean they were together at the moment, although they are. I meant together, as in, together.” She wiggles her eyebrows to illustrate her point, and Bradley huffs at laugh at her before pulling her up off of his bed and leading her over to one of the sofas in his room.

“I don’t know...I already asked him whether he was seeing someone, and he said no. Why would he lie to me?”

“I don’t know. But Katie’s been going out a lot over the past couple of months,”

“Maybe she has a boyfriend?” Bradley asks. “One that’s not Colin.”

“Well that’s what I thought. But she’s been out for the past couple of Fridays too, and unless it’s someone else in the cast, then I don’t see who else it could be,”

Bradley can feel the jealousy uncurling in his stomach, and he hates that he feels this way, hates that Colin has so much power over him just by existing, hates that the jealousy is aimed at Katie of all people, because as much as she scares him, and makes him fear for his balls, Bradley loves Katie like a sister. In his ideal world, Bradley would never have any need to dislike her, but right now, Bradley is not living in an ideal world.

“Why would they keep it from us?” he asks in a small voice, and Angel makes a sympathetic noise.

“Oh, sweetie. I know this has got to be hard for you. I don’t know why. Maybe they didn’t want us to get mad at them? Some people look down on dating a co-star.”

Bradley snorts. “Obviously not me. I dated Georgia, or do they not remember that?”

“I don’t know,” Angel worries at her lip, and Bradley drops down beside her, draping his arm around her shoulders. Impulsively, he presses a kiss to the top of her head, and she snuggles closer into his side.

 He feels a flicker of guilt at the realisation that he’s been neglecting his friendship with Angel over the past couple of months, and vows to make it up to her. He may call her a hussy a lot, but he does love her, and it’s all affectionate.

“I just don’t understand why they wouldn’t tell us,” he says, watching Angel twist one curly lock around her finger.

“I thought we were supposed to be their friends,” Angel agrees. “It’s not like we wouldn’t have supported them, even if you are crazy in love with Colin. You want him to be happy, right?”

“Obviously.” Bradley says, because it’s true. As much as he would love for Colin to be happy with him, he’d rather Colin be happy with someone else. Even though the thought of Colin with someone else makes his heart clench in his chest.

“Should we talk to them about it?”

“I’m not sure. Maybe it’s best if they come to us?”

“Maybe. Will they ever come to us though?”

“I hope so.”

After a beat of silence, Angel asks “Want to go and grab a bite to eat?” and Bradley readily agrees.

^

When they get back to the hotel, Bradley realises that he hadn’t thought about Colin once the whole time.

^

Bradley ends up asking Colin about Katie.

Him and Angel have just got back from a lunch that was more alcohol than food, and Bradley bumps into Colin on his way back to his room.

“Col! Colin, Colin, Colin.”

“Hello Bradley.” Colin smiles, before taking a closer look at him. “Are you drunk? At...” Colin checks his watch, “Three o’clock in the afternoon? Really, James?”

“Me and Angel, went out for lunch.”

“I see. And this links to the fact that you are shitfaced, how?”

Bradley thinks about that, but he can’t quite remember. “Umm. I don’t know.” He drapes his arms around Colin’s shoulders and pulls him into a hug, breathing deeply into Colin’s hair. “Hey Colin?” he asks, breath tickling Colin’s ear, and Colin shudders. “Can I ask you a question?”

“I suppose so,” Colin sighs, and steers Bradley towards their hotel rooms. “Maybe not out here though, hmmm?”

“Okay,” Bradley agrees, leaning all of his weight onto Colin, who take it with a muffle grunt.

When they enter a hotel room – Colin’s, Bradley thinks, but he’s not entirely sure – Bradley slumps backwards on the bed, his head spinning with the sudden motion and change of altitude. With his eyes closed to shield them from the bright glare of the overhead lamp, Bradley blindly reaches for Colin, and closed his fingers around the familiar bony wrist before tugging him down onto the bed next to him. He then promptly shoves him off it again, with a request to turn of the light.

After that’s done, and it no longer feels as though fireworks are going off behind Bradley’s eyelids, Colin returns to the bed, and curls up on his side, facing Bradley. His hand is resting on the bed between them, dangerously close to Bradley’s own, and Bradley has to resist the urge to reach out his hand the scarce few inches, and covers Colin with his own.

In order to distract himself from that particular urge, Bradley struggles to position himself the same way as Colin and ends up overbalancing slightly, tipping over in the process. Laughing, Colin pushes Bradley back onto his side, and Bradley tries not to focus on the way Colin’s hand lingers on his shoulder, sure that it’s some form of drunken hallucination.

“What was it you wanted to talk about?” Colin asks, and Bradley has to rack his mind for a moment, questions about Katie and Colin forgotten in the short moments of time that his brain had had time to focus on other things (such as Colin, and how soft the duvet he’s lying on is, and Colin).

“Umm...I’m not sure,” he admits in a small voice, though Bradley doesn’t think that Colin will be angry at him, because after all, he is drunk. And Colin doesn’t angry at him much. And he’s drunk.

As predicted, Colin laughs instead of getting angry, and Bradley applauds internally, then realises that he shouldn’t have expected Colin to get angry. In apology, Bradley reaches over and pats him clumsily on the head, although with his aim slightly of centre, he actually ends up patting Colin’s ear.

“ ‘s soft,” Bradley murmurs, and then pets Colin’s ear once more, before tugging softly on the lobe. “Well done,”

“You’re congratulating me on having soft ears?” Colin sounds bemused. “How drunk are you, James?”

“Yeah, they’re soft! And big, but ‘s not a bad thing, ‘cause they’re soft too. Really soft. Like a cosy blanket. Bet they’d be as warm as a blanket too.” Bradley is sober enough to realise that he’s babbling, and so shuts his mouth with a click.

“Okay, Bradley. Let’s get you under the covers. You need to sleep it off.” With Colin’s help, he manages to manoeuvre himself underneath the sheets, and he piles the pillows up the way he likes them before pulling his knees up to his chest.

“I remembered what I wanted to ask you, Col,” Bradley mumbles sleepily, eyes already slipping closed. “Can I ask you?”

“Go ahead.”

“I know about you and Katie, and where you go on Friday’s.”

“That’s not a question,” Colin chides, and Bradley huffs a laugh that’s more of a sigh.

“Why didn’t you tell me? I don’t mind if you’re dating her y’know. I love Katie. She’s awesome.”

“I’m not dating Katie, Bradley,”

“Are too,”

“Are not,” Colin says, and then laughs. “Let’s not let this turn into a childish dispute. Go to sleep you drunkard. I’ll speak to you when you wake up.”

Bradley does as he’s told. When he’s drifting off, he’s sure he feels a hand running through his hair, but he’s too close to sleep to care, so he ignores and slowly sinks closer to the darkness of rest.

^

When Bradley wakes up it is dark outside, though it is the shade of night just fallen instead of one which has been underway for a while. Rolling over, he stretches his arms above his head and pops his spine, wincing when the movement jostles his head, which chooses this moment to remind him that he and Angel managed to drink four bottle of wine between them earlier.

“Nnnggg,” he groans, moving his hands to cradle his sore head in his hand. “Colin. Colin, help me. There’s a marching band in my head. They’re doing some kind of jig.”

Colin removes one of Bradley’s hands from his face, and Bradley feels him place two circular objects in it. Mumbling his thanks, Bradley tips his head back and swallows the pills dry, coughing at the chalky residue it leaves. “Seriously bro. Thanks,”

“S’okay. What are friends for, eh?”

“What time is it?” Bradley asks, unable to muster up the energy to raise his wrist and look at his watch.

“Just turned nine o’clock,” Colin is sat on the edge of bed, ankles hooked together and hands folded in his lap. From his vantage point lying down, Bradley can just about see all of Colin, though his eyes are being consistently drawn to the thin sliver of skin showing above his waistline. It increases slightly every time Colin moves, and Bradley can feel his breath hitch quietly in his throat.

He’s so engrossed in his study of Colin’s body, that Bradley doesn’t immediately notice when Colin starts talking again, and has to get him to repeat it. “I’m sorry, what?”

“I was talking about what you said yesterday, about me and Katie,”

“Oh god,” Bradley rolls over and muffles his face in a pillow. “Oh my god, did I talk to you about that last night? Angel is going to kill me,”

“I’m sure she won’t,”

“What did I say to you? Because I don’t want you thinking that I don’t agree with the relationship-“

“Bradley-“

“-and I might not have predicted it but that doesn’t mean I think it’s a bad match-“

“-shut up for a second-“

“-and I love Katie, you know I do, and Angel does too and we just want you to be happy-“

“-Bradley, will you listen to me you pillock-“

“-and if you make each other happy then I give you my blessing, which kind of makes it sounds like you’re getting married, which would be fine-“

“-I’m trying to explain you, would you just listen to me-“

“-but I just don’t understand why you would keep it from us, I mean, I dated Georgia, it’s not like I have a problem with cast members dating and-“

“-oh my god, I’m gay you eejit.”

“You’re...you’re gay?” Bradley whispers, hope blooming in his chest because if Colin is gay, then his chances with him are statically higher than when Colin was into girls.

“Yes. I’m gay.” Colin sounds angry and defensive, and Bradley realises that Colin is scared he will reject him, and that makes him sad. “I have been since I was fourteen, and I will be for the rest of my life and nothing you do or say is going to change that. Okay?”

“God, of course it’s okay. Why would anyone try to change you anyway?” Bradley struggles to sit up and props himself up against the headboard, duvet falling down around his waist. When he looks over at Colin, he notices that his hands are shaking, and unthinkingly reaches to clasp the shaking digits in his own. Colin freezes like a deer in the headlights, and Bradley idly strokes one of his fingers in small circles on Colin’s palm. “Hey, it’s okay. Colin, look at me.” He does. “It’s fine. It doesn’t matter to me, whether you like girls or guys or both or neither. It’s doesn’t matter. I don’t care. Alright?”

Colin nods jerkily, and Bradley hauls him up beside him onto the bed, before wrestling the covers over the top of them. “Honestly, you are such an eejit, Colin Morgan. Such an eejit.”

This makes Colin try to laugh, but it gets caught in his throat, and what comes out it more of a sob. For the first time since he can remember, Bradley intentionally crowds up behinds Colin, who’s lying on his side and staring at the wall, and slides his arm tentatively across Colin’s waste.

Bradley feels Colin tense up, but simply whispers a quiet “Go to sleep,” and Colin relaxes again, breathing deepening and evening out.

With his forehead pressed to the gap between Colin’s shoulder blades, Bradley tries not to think about that fact that he very much does care that Colin is gay.

^

When Bradley wakes up the bed is empty.

^

A couple of weeks after they’re back filming in Cardiff, Eoin brings a visitor to the set. She shyly introduces herself as Molly, and Eoin looks absolutely besotted from where he’s standing behind her and slightly to the left. Absentmindedly, Molly tucks a lock of her ginger hair behind her ear, only for Eoin to pull it back out again.

Bradley smiles to himself at the display of their closeness. Katie chooses that moment to breeze into the room, fully in costume, and she quickly crosses over to Molly before kissing her on both cheeks.

“Katie!” Molly exclaims, her hands gripping Katie’s elbows, and Bradley is confused as to how the two know each other, but shrugs it off, assuming that they’re friends and Katie introduced her to Eoin. “Or should I be calling you Morgana?”

Katie laughs, a light tinkling sound that trails in the air, and shakes her head, linking arms with Molly. “Call me what you like darling,” Behind the pair, Eoin wrinkles his nose at the endearment, and Bradley laughs, quickly turning it into a cough when Angel glares at him. “Now, have these Neanderthal boys introduced you to everyone yet, or have to been thrown to the sharks?”

“I know who everyone is,” Molly replies “But I haven’t been introduced yet. All I have to go on is the information Eoin has given me. Did you guys know that he never stops laughing?”

“Of course he doesn’t. He’s irish,” Bradley laughs, and then steps forward with his hand outstretched. “Bradley James. Pleasure to meet you. You could call me King Arthur, if you really want.”

Molly returns the handshake, her grip firm, and then curtsies. “Sire,”

“Oh, I like you,” Bradley says. “If you ever get bored of Macken over there, you can always give me a call.”

“Thanks for the offer, but I’m not sure I’ll ever get bored of him. He’s gonna find it difficult to get rid of me,” She blushes, but Eoin reaches out to tangle their fingers together and she smiles at him, softly. It makes something inside of Bradley ache fiercely, makes him want for someone to have that with.

“That’s enough of chatting up my girl, James. Thought you were taken, anyway?”

“For the last time I am not dating Colin, okay? Sheesh.”

“Someone’s incredibly defensive,” Angel teases, but when she steps forward to hug Molly she sweeps a supportive hand along the gap between his shoulder blades. “Angel Coulby,”

“I’ve heard so much about you,” Molly gushes, and Gwen looks surprised but flattered. “Katie talks about you all the time.”

Introductions are made over the next couple of minutes, and Molly seems to get along well with everyone, which Eoin looks pleased about. Eventually, when she’s been introduced to Rupert, Molly looks round and asks “Where Colin?” which serves to make Bradley jealous, despite knowing that Molly is quite obviously with Eoin for the long run.

“Ermm, I’m not sure,” Bradley supplies with a shrug. “I know he was getting his make-up done, but he should be finished by now.” Bradley takes his phone out of his back pocket and types out a quick text to Colin – where are you? Eoin has someone he wants us to meet. – before sliding it back into his jeans. “He should text back any moment,”

“Oh, that’s fine, there’s no need to worry. I’m sure I’ll see him at some point. So, Angel, tell about your favourite book. Katie said you loved reading and I just finished an English degree, so I had to read quite a lot of-“ Molly’s sentence is cut off as her and Angel walk through the doorway and the door closes behind them.

Eoin ruffles a hand through his hair nervously, before smiling at the guys. “What do you think?”

“She’s an absolute sweetheart,” Tom replies, and Bradley nods along in agreement, because it’s true.

“Are you serious about her?”

Eoin looks sheepish for a moment before he smiles. “Yeah. Yeah, I am.”

“Well I’m happy for you mate,” Bradley claps him on the back. “I’ve got to go, chainmail to put on, scenes to film. You know how it is.”

“Yeah, I do,” Eoin chuckles, “Off you go then.” Bradley is halfway out of the door when Eoin calls him back, and he sticks his head around the door frame, not caring that he probably looks like an idiot.

“What’s up?”

“You’re coming out to dinner, right? After work this evening. I want everyone to get a chance to get to know Molly better.”

“Umm...sure, I guess. Where are we going?”

“We were thinking the new Chinese place that just opened. And can you text Colin and ask him if he wants to come too?”

“Sure thing,” Bradley says, before heading off to costume.

^

When he’s sitting in his chair at Hair and Make-Up, Bradley checks his phone to see if Colin has text back in the past twenty minutes or so. It turns out he has, and Bradley opens the message.

From: Colin

To: Bradley

Dammit, did I miss Molly? Julian wanted to run through my lines again. Sorry! Did Eoin say anything about dinner later?x

Bradley quickly taps out a reply, and spends the rest of his time in the chair trying not to stare at the kiss at the end of the message, and convince himself that it doesn’t mean anything, that it’s just something friends put at the end of texts.

^

The restaurant that Eoin and Molly have chosen is actually pretty good, in the end. Bradley has always liked Chinese food, so he’s not complaining, the rest of the knights (and Katie and Angel) will eat pretty much anything, and according to Colin, the vegetarian selection is brilliant,  so it ends up being a good choice.

Somehow, Bradley has ended squashed between Tom and Adetomiwa, with Colin at the other end of the table, which makes him scowl for a moment, before Tom tells him to stop being such a grump. “He’s just up the other end of the table, Bradley. He’s not in another country.”

He does stop scowling, but only because he knows that it will upset Eoin - read: make Eoin angry - and he doesn’t want to ruin the night. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the smile Colin aims towards him, which makes his insides feel like jelly. Nope. Nothing at all.

After everyone has ordered, talk turns to Molly; everyone is interested in the one conquest of Eoin’s who is seemingly here to stay.

“So you’re at university, right?” Angel asks, struggling to work the chopsticks in her hand, before finally giving up and stabbing her chick ball onto the end of it.

Molly nods “Just finished actually. I start again in September though, training to be a teacher.”

“Oh, that’s interesting. What type of teacher?”

“Probably an English teacher in a secondary school somewhere. I always enjoyed it in school, and figured it was down to having good teachers, and I’ve wanted to teach ever since.”

“Molly is amazing at Shakespeare though,” Katie cuts across, and Bradley notes, slightly disgruntled, that Katie has perfected the art of using the chopsticks. She looks sophisticated and elegant using them, rather than like a child’s first time holding a pen, which Bradley is aware is his main look when attempting to use them.

“I’m not- I wouldn’t say I’m amazing. I like it, so I’m passionate about it as well. I guess that transfers over into my work, most of the time,” Seemingly randomly, Eoin turns briefly from his conversation with Colin and Rupert to kiss Molly on the head, and then turns back and continues his conversation. Aside from the light blush on Molly’s face, there’s no evidence that anything had happened at all.

Bradley half thinks he imagined it.

If he had imagined it, though, it’s fairly tame compared to the other day dreams he’s encountered. Over the past couple of months, Bradley’s brain has provided him with a plethora of circumstances, ranging from tap dancing bananas to taps dancing with bananas to telephones that talk to each other people. It’s always interesting, and Bradley’s never bored, but he has never imagined an action so domesticated could have come from Eoin Macken.

Shaking his head softly, Bradley exits his reverie, and hears Molly say his name. “Sorry, what was that?” he asks, hoping he doesn’t look like he was ignoring her. “I drifted off. Happens more often than not, it wasn’t anything personal.”

Katie answers instead of Molly. “Molly asked if you like Shakespeare, Bradley?”

“Oh right, right. Yeah, I do quite like some of his stuff, but not all of it.”

“What’s your favourite?”

Bradley doesn’t even have to think before answering that question. “Hamlet, definitely. Has been since we read it in school.”

“Me too! Have you ever seen in performed? I went earlier this year, and there was nothing like it, honestly. If you get the chance when you’ve finished filming, I really recommend it.”

“I actually have seen it, yes. Colin and I went and saw it about a year ago,” Colin looks across the table at the mention of his name, and raises a questioning eyebrow at Bradley. “Talking with Molly about going to see Hamlet,” he explains, and a look of understanding crosses Colin’s face.

“Yeah, we did. It was great fun, wasn’t it Bradley?” Colin smiles and Bradley nods hesitantly because it was, it was fun, but it was also torture, to be sitting in the dark next to Colin and not take his hand, to be pressed against Colin’s side because their seats were so small.

A perfect form of torture, but torture nonetheless.

“Completely agree,” Molly says, and Colin grins at her before turning back to Eoin and Rupert, slipping back into the conversation as seamlessly as if he had never left it. When it looks like Colin is sufficiently distracted, all three girls turn their gazes onto Bradley.

Bradley gulps.

“Umm...why are you all looking at me like that?”

“Honestly, Bradley.” Katie sounds exasperated. “I let you off at first, because I figured it was just you being stupid, but enough is enough. You need to ask him out.”Molly and Angel nod sagely in agreement.

“I..what...what...why are you bringing this up now?” Bradley splutters, feeling himself blush. Excellent.

“Because we’re bloody sick of the two of you looking at each other like lovesick puppies, that’s why,” Angel says, and Bradley would appreciate it more if she wasn’t looking at him so pityingly.

“Listen, I know you guys are trying to help, or whatever, but me and Colin? We’re just friends, okay. Yes, I like him as more than that, but he doesn’t feel the same, and being gay doesn’t change that. So can we just, leave it alone? Please?” He hates that he sounds like he’s begging, but he honestly cannot keep with people giving him hope that Colin might return his feelings.

“Okay, okay,” Katie says, her tone heavy with frustration.

“Sorry,” Angel and Molly say.

Bradley just carries on eating his chow mien.

^

“Where did you two meet, again?” Tom asks over drinks in the pub, later that night. Next to Eoin, Colin’s cheeks pink a bit, and Bradley sits up straighter, more interested in the story than he was initially.

Molly answers before she notices the frantic-yet-subtle signalling of either Katie or Colin, and Colin drops his head down onto the table when she finishes her sentence. “Oh, Katie and Colin bought Eoin with them to Ceroc a couple of weeks ago. I was the unfortunate soul who had to partner with him in training; he almost broke one of my toes.”

“Wait,” Angel says, sounding confused. “Ceroc. Isn’t that where-“

“Yes, it’s where we went dancing a couple of months ago. Yes, Katie and I have been going to classes as often as we can since then. No, Katie and I are not dating, and yes, I am gay, though liking dancing has nothing to do with that. Any more questions?” Colin’s voice is muffled by the wood of the table, but Bradley can still hear him clearly.

“That’s what you’ve been ditching our Movie Nights for? Dancing?” He asks, strangely outraged that Colin had kept this from him.

“Steady on Princess,” Eoin mutters, and Molly clutches his arm, looking worried. “No, don’t say it like that,” She says, in an attempt to fix the situation. “They’re very good. Katie and Colin are top of our class in fact.”

“We are,” Bradley jumps when Katie says this, having forgotten Katie was there. “We’re spectacular.”

“Why didn’t you tell us?” Angel asks.

Colin’s voice seems even more muffled than before, and when he speaks, no one can understand it, so he lifts his head to answer Angel, whilst looking directly at Bradley. “You guys didn’t like it when we went. We didn’t see the point in inviting you if you’d just of said no.”

“But you didn’t have to lie, Colin. I thought you had a secret girlfriend or boyfriend or something.”

To be fair,” Adetomiwa chips in, “We all did.”

“Yes, well, we weren’t. I wasn’t.”

After a moment of tense silence, Angel stands from her chair fairy abruptly. “Anyone up for a game of darts?” Shrugging, the rest of the group follow Angel’s lead and stand up, before following her and Katie to the dart boards.

“That woman with a pointy object is dangerous,” Bradley remarks, and Colin laughs. “Yes, well, Maybe if we stand behind her, we won’t get hit with it,”

Once Bradley and Colin have left to loiter in the area around the dartboard, it is just Eoin and Molly left. Molly swings her legs up onto the seat beside them before snuggling backwards into Eoin, a warm feeling spreading through her when he put him arms around her middle and rests one on his hip and one on her abdomen.

“They should go and watch them sometime,” She comments from where she is reclined against Eoin, and he presses his face into her curls.

“ Maybe they will,” he mumbles.

^

When Bradley and Colin get back to the hotel, both of them are considerably drunk, although Bradley more so. They are leaning against each other, holding each other up, and Colin giggles when Bradley swings to door open and then shushes it, when it slams against the door.

“Bradley. Bradley, Bradley that’s door. It’s not making any noise.” He laughs, an image in his head of the door with a mouth, calling to them and shouting in the middle of the night.

Bradley looks affronted for a while, but then he just shrugs, stumbling over to the bed and falling backwards onto it. “Hey!” He says, when he almost rolls onto the floor. “This isn’t my bed. Where’s my bed?” A second later; “Colin, my bed isn’t under your bed. Do you know where it is?”

Colin is standing by the iPod dock, struggling to fit his nano in the slot, and he answers without turning round. “They’re not bunkbeds Bradley. Of course your bed isn’t under mine. I suspect it’s in your room.” iPod successfully in the dock, music starts blaring from the speakers, and Colin hastily turns it down, numb fingers fumbling with the dials.

“How come you can say words like sushp...shusp...suspect? You had more to drink than I did!”

“I don’t know. Prob’ly cause I’m clevererer that you,”

“You are not,” Bradley huffs before rolling onto his feet. He staggers over in the direction of Colin, catching hold of his shoulders to steady himself when he trips. “Whoops. Hey Colin, I like this song,”

“I like it too,”

“Well then let’s dance!” Bradley’s movements are jerky and uncoordinated, alcohol still strumming through his bloodstream. He grabs hold of Colin’s hand, moving him with him, and hums tunelessly along to which ever song is playing. “Oh, I know! You should teach me how to dance like you and Katie do!”

Colin doesn’t sound convinced of the wisdom of that plan. “I’m not sure. You’d have to be the girl,”

“Okay,”

Still slightly doubtful, Colin lets go of Bradley’s hands, but regrips them again quickly, in the right position. “Okay, you have to step backwards. Got that? And then forwards. And then backwards. That’s how all the routines start.” Bradley bites his lip and nods, moving forward and back in time with the beat to make sure he’s got it.

“Right, so after you’ve done that twice, you umm, you need to let go of your left hand. Okay, now I spin, and you stay where you are, and when I’ve spun, I’m going to catch your right hand in my right hand.”

“Okay,” Bradley says, slightly breathlessly, because he may be drunk but Colin is holding his hand and they’re breathing practically the same air and it’s not his fault that Little Bradley is getting a little excited at the situation. “What now?”

“Now you turn under my arm...yeah, like that...and then your arm comes up around my head and rests on my shoulder and-“Colin trails off.

Him and Bradley are nose to nose, their breath’s mingling in the small space between then. “Colin,” Bradley whispers, breath fanning across Colin’s lips. “How drunk are you?”

“Umm...drunk enough. I’ll remember everything tomorrow morning though, I think.” He licks him lips, and Bradley follows the movement with his eyes, swallowing heavily.

“Okay. I’m going to...is it okay if I kiss you?” He asks.

“Of course it is, you eejit,” Colin answers with a laugh.

Bradley does.

^

Ten minutes later, Bradley is on his back on the floor with his shirt undone, and Colin is lying on top of him doing something to Bradley’s neck that should probably be illegal. Breathlessly, Bradley tangles his fingers in Colin’s hair and drags his mouth back up to his own, sighing into the kiss and deciding that as long as it’s okay with Colin, he’s never going to stop kissing him. The cool air suddenly hits the spot on his neck that Colin has just stopped sucking a bruise onto, and Bradley shudders at the sensation.

“I can’t believe you thought I was dating Katie,” Colin mumbles against Bradley’s mouth, and Bradley agrees wholeheartedly, although he still thinks that it’s not entirely his fault. “Stupid.”

Somewhere in the back of his mind, Bradley thinks he should probably be offended, but it’s difficult to be angry at anyone when you can feel the outline of someone else’s cock pressing against yours through the fabric of both of your trousers, and even more difficult to be angry at the person the cock belongs to.

“Are you...are you sure we should do this now?” Bradley gasps, arching up into Colin in direct contrast to his words, and somewhat hindering Colin’s ability to reply by coverig his mouth with his own. They kiss languidly for a moment before Colin pulls away slowly, and then gets off of Bradley completely.

Bradley whines plaintively, because Colin being any further than 10cm away from him was not in the plan for the next couple of hours, but Colin just offers Bradley his hand, and pulls him to his feet. “I’m not saying we should stop, stupid,” Colin says between kisses. “But I think our first time should be on a bed. Not the floor.”

“Not the floor,” Bradley agrees, and Colin lets out a yelp as Bradley lifts him in a Fireman’s Carry. The added weight makes him stumble for a moment when he stands up, and the residual alcohol in his system isn’t helping matters at all, but he manages to steady himself, and walks quickly towards the bed area of the hotel room.

The mattress lets out an ‘oof’ noise when Colin lands on it, and Colin starts to giggle a little, but Bradley is there quickly, smothering the small laughs at their source. Within a few minutes, the pair are kissing furiously again, hands roaming between them, scrabbling up t-shirts and under waistbands. Impatiently, Bradley grasps Colin’s t-shirt and pulls it up over his head in one smooth motion. All it takes is for Colin to slide Bradley’s open shirt off of his shoulders and then their chests are pressed together, Bradley’s smooth skin against Colin’s paler skin.

“Do you have anything in here?” Bradley huffs out against Colin’s clavicle, and Colin makes a groan of dismay, but Bradley doesn’t hear it. He’s too busy kissing his way down Colin’s chest, flicking his tongue over Colin’s hardened nipples, and following his treasure trail to the one bit of Colin that Bradley is yet to see. He stops, hovering over the damp patch on Colin’s boxers where he’s leaking precum, and glancing up at Colin as if to ask permission.

What he sees almost wrecks him right there and then.

Colin’s hair is messy where Bradley had been running his fingers through it moments ago, and his face is flushed. His chest if heaving irregularly and he’s got his lower lip caught between his teeth and a look of such raw, unadulterated want in his eyes that it turns Bradley’s insides to jelly.

Unable to wait any longer, Bradley quickly yanks Colin’s boxers down over his knees, and what he sees genuinely makes his mouth water. Colin’s cock is flushed red, deeper at the head, more purplish. It’s curved up towards his stomach, thick and long, and Bradley wants to choke himself on it.

Never one for denying himself, Bradley does just that, licking up the shaft just once before he swallows Colin down to the root. Colin makes a noise dangerously close to a scream, and out of the corner of his eyes, Bradley can see Colin’s hands tense up into claw-like shapes that look painful. Removing one hand from Colin’s hip where it had been resting, Bradley guides Colin’s hands to his hair, and returns back to his ministrations on Colin’s cock.

Rhythmically, Colin tugs on Bradley’s hair, and the sensation of pleasure-versus-pain combined with the noises Colin’s making is enough to keep Bradley balanced on the edge of release, even without having touched his own prick once in the proceedings. On one particularly strong suck as Bradley pulls off of Colin’s dick, Colin convulses underneath Bradley’s hands, and pulls on Bradley’s hair so hard that Bradley has to resist the urge to scream himself. He settles for moaning around Colin’s cock instead, and Colin responds to that by pulling Bradley’s hair even harder.

Of course, this only makes Bradley moan again, which makes Colin pulls Bradley hair again, and on it goes in a circle. Each vibration around Colin’s cock pushes Colin closer to the edge, and with every shoot of pain-slash-pleasure that Bradley receives, he has to force himself not to come, determined to make Colin come first. When Colin eventually does come, Bradley pulls off to watch him.

At least, he would have pulled off to watch him, if it wasn’t for Colin’s fingers in his hair. As it is, Colin’s final tug near enough pulls some of Bradley’s hair out, but even still, it’s enough to topple Bradley into the best orgasm he’s had in the last two years.

When he comes to, moments later, Colin is lethargically running his fingers through Bradley’s hair, mumbling soothing words that are just sounds. Bradley pulls back from where his forehead was resting on Colin’s thigh, and winces at the amount of come that’s covering them. Most of his had gone over him, because like a teenage boy, he’d come in his pants. Colin though, appeared to be a shooter; his come was everywhere. Bradley thinks Colin might have some in his hair, which is impressive.

“C’mere,” Colin says suddenly, and Bradley crawls up the bed and settles in beside Colin.

“Shouldn’t we clear up, or something?” Bradley asks, because he knows from experience that dried come is never pleasant.

“Tired,” Colin says (well, yawns) and turns over so that Bradley is pressed up against his back. “Do’t in the morning,” Bradley opens his mouth to protest the idea, but he hears Colin’s breathing even out quickly, and knows there’s no point.

Resigning himself to the fact that his underwear will be glued to him in the morning, Bradley throws him arm over Colin’s waist, and smiles as he too drifts off into sleep.

^

When Bradley wakes, hours later, the sun is streaming through a gap in the curtains, and hitting him directly in the eyes. He makes a strangled groan, and manages to pull himself upright, wincing as his boxers unpeel themselves from his thighs.

After he has sat up completely, leaning back against the headrest with the sheets pooled around his waist, Bradley looks around the room through bleary eyes. A sinking feeling enters his stomach when he realises that Colin is nowhere to be seen. Roughly, he scrubs a hand through his hair, and then grinds the heel of his hands into his eyes, trying to push back the tears he can feel.

Bradley breathes heavily for a moment, attempting to get his feelings under control. It was foolish of him to think that anything had changed between him and Colin, foolish of him to think that sex automatically meant a relationship. When his stomach has stopped trying to twist itself into knots, Bradley slips out of bed and pulls his jeans on, ignoring the stickiness inside his boxers. He wants to have gone before Colin gets back, back to his hotel room where he can shower in peace and then sleep off his hangover.

He’s halfway to the door when Colin appears out of the bathroom, in a pair of clean boxers and with his hair still wet from the shower he’s taken. “Going somewhere?”

“I thought you’d left,” Bradley confesses quietly, and then gulps audibly, because seeing Colin looking so soft and clean and pure is doing funny things to his insides.

“I was having a shower,” Colin says, gesturing towards his hair and Bradley laughs.

“I can see that,”

They stand fairly awkwardly in silence for a moment, Bradley with one hand on the door handle, and Colin with a towel in his hands. Eventually, Colin mutters “Oh, fuck this,” and strides over to Bradley, before taking his face between his hands and pulling him into a kiss. Bradley’s lips open willingly, and he groans into the kiss, his hands skimming up Colin’s arms and onto his shoulders. When they break apart, Colin rests his forehead against Bradley’s and breathes into the space between them. “We need to talk about this,” he says, entwining their fingers together, “but I’m really very tired. I don’t suppose we could go back to bed and talk about it when my head is no longer throbbing?”

“I think that can problem be arranged,” Bradley laughs with an air of relief, and leads Colin over to the bed. Like the night before, Colin curls up with his back pressed against Bradley’s chest, and like the night before, they both fall asleep almost instantly.

This time, when Bradley wakes, Colin is beside him, propped up on one elbow and ostensibly watching him sleep. “That’s slightly creepy,” Bradley says, but Colin just smiles softly, and runs his fingers through Bradley’s hair.

“I don’t care,”

Bradley stretches, popping the vertebrae in his back, and makes a satisfied sigh. “Mmm. . . that’s better. So... are we going to talk, or..?”

Colin laughs quietly, “No, we’re going to talk. You can start,”

“I can start? How generous of you Colin. Truly, thank you,” Bradley is quiet for a moment, trying to organise his thoughts into some semblance of order, and attempting to decide what he should say. “Right, well. I don’t really know what to say, so I guess I should just go for it?” Colin nods.

“That could be a plan,”

“Okay. I guess, all I need to say is that I’ve been in love with you for pretty much two years now? And I’m really glad that we’re doing the whole ‘sex thing’, but I’d quite like it to be more than that? If that’s okay with you, I mean,” The look on Colin’s face is unreadable, and Bradley waits in silence for his response, the butterflies fluttering his (empty) stomach making him feel slightly ill.

“Of course I’d be fucking okay with it,” Colin says finally, and Bradley can’t stop the smile that blooms across his face.

“Really?”

“Really. I’ve been in love with you since we started filming Merlin, you absolute pillock. Of course I’m okay with sleeping with you ‘and more’,”

“Since the beginning of Merlin, eh?” Bradley asks. A warm feeling is spreading through his body, and he thinks he’s never going to stop smiling.

“Oh shut up, James,” Colin gripes good naturedly. “Do you want to go and get some lunch?” He asks, after a quick glance at the clock on the night stand.

“I would love to,” Bradley says, “But I’m going to need a shower first. Care to join me?”

“I think I can probably manage that.”

^

Telling their cast members ends up being fairly anticlimactic.

Bradley’s not sure what he’s expecting – gasps of surprise, maybe, or people fainting in shock – but it leaves him fairly disgruntled when the only response to Colin’s admittance that “Bradley and I are together,” is an exchange of money between Eoin and Tom.

“That’s it? That’s really all that’s going to happen?” He exclaims, and Katie raises an eyebrow at him.

“You’ve been in love with each other for the past three years, Bradley. What would you like us to do?”

“I don’t know! I’d like some kind of shock registered, please. You’re all actors,” Bradley thinks he’s entirely justified in his displeasure when everybody just laughs in his face, and then head of to the bar. “Well that was rude,” he complains to Colin, who is sat next to him.

“Not really,” Colin replies, “Most of them have had bets for a year. I’d imagine it’s a relief for them to not owe anyone money anymore.”

“You knew about the bets?” Bradley splutters.

“Of course I knew about the bets, Bradley. Unlike you, I’m not entirely oblivious.” Seeing as Bradley had thought Colin was with Katie, he has to agree that his boyfriend might have a point.

^

Epilogue

They all go to see Katie and Colin dancing three week later.

This time, when Bradley is leaning against the wall with a pint in his hand and watching the couples dancing on the floor, neither Eoin nor Tom are standing there with him. Eoin is, of course, dancing with Molly, and Tom is dancing with a friend of Molly’s that he had been introduced to a couple of days prior.

Rupert and Adetomiwa are still there with him – they had only come along to watch Katie and Colin dance, and had no desire to participate in it themselves – and Bradley still gets jealous when Colin smiles at the pretty brunettes, but this time it’s different.

Because Colin can smile at the pretty brunettes, but it s Bradley who gets to see him soft and rumpled in the early hours of the morning. Colin can spin a slim blonde around the room, but Bradley is the one who gets to spend a whole day with him, doing nothing but enjoying each other’s company.  Colin can laugh at the petite gingers’ jokes, but Bradley knows the sparkle in Colin’s eyes when they laugh together during sex.

Colin can dance with whomever he wants, as many times as he wants. At the end of the day, Bradley knows that he’s the one going home with him. And if they have to save their kind if ‘dancing’ for a locked hotel room with the curtains drawn, then Bradley thinks he can probably live with that.

- End