Colin sometimes hates coming back to filming.
He remembers all the things that happen in that in between time and foolishly gets nostalgic for them like they were something very far away. Or even worth remembering in a fond way, like a childhood memory, which is the kind of thing he thinks you should actually be nostalgic about.
Not a series of what are basically one night stands with your best friend that have been going on for years.
Those surprise visits and those nights afterward; single, dished out like a treat, a reward - only one a time, but long and lingering.
Colin isn't sure how it was they had decided they would only be singular; a moment here, a moment there. It's not like there was ever any conversation about it, the thought of having a heart to heart with Bradley about it makes Colin want to laugh. He thinks it probably would've ended up a disaster with Colin admitting too much and Bradley not enough and then where would either one of them be if they didn't have those moments in between? It started without a plan and it continues without one, no use changing it all now.
So even though he can't claim Bradley in any way Colin sometimes hates coming back to set, to Wales and France, because here he always has to share Bradley and it's never quite as. Well. It's never quite as much as he wants it to be. They still find each other's rooms and there's still those long nights but in the morning Bradley doesn't wrap a scarf around Colin's neck and send him off to catch his train with a kiss and a look that sometimes tempts Colin to suggest staying. Just a little longer. Please. Instead they have early morning make-up calls and people on set and all these moments and people and things that take Bradley away from him. And while it's easier to have those nights, and sensibly Colin knows there are more of them, they seem so far between. The nights he's alone in his bed seem to stretch on longer when he's closer to Bradley.
It's ridiculous, what they are, everything about them is. They kiss, they fuck, they laugh, they talk and Colin loves the heart and soul out of Bradley. They're in a fucking relationship. Except they aren't. No one knows, not even themselves. Sometimes Colin thinks they might know, on those nights when they're together and they don't laughingly fuck each other like they usually do; when it's all loose and fun and unbound. There's nothing more to those nights than what they are and Colin can make himself think that it's okay. But the longer they do this thing the more often they have the other kind of nights. The ones that make Colin wonder if maybe he's not entirely crazy and maybe he should just say, 'fuck this' and stay. Stay stay stay and never let Bradley wrap that fucking scarf around his neck as he pushes him out the door with fingers that hold on until the last possible second. God. There were times Colin had to stop himself from dropping to his knees and holding Bradley's hand and kissing those fingers that betray him.
He laughs on the way to the train station when he has those thoughts. He'd scare the living fuck out of Bradley if he did such a thing. It's not the least bit funny, but he only laughs harder.
But it would only be fair because Bradley scares the fuck out of him. His big blond head and crooked teeth and giant nose; his loud laugh and careful heart. They scare Colin to death. He wants to push Bradley sometimes, just out of the blue, because there are these moments when he's suddenly struck by how much he loves him and wants him and he hates Bradley for making it so much harder than it has to be. He means too much to Colin to throw things out on a whim, to toss out the idea of love and hope it all goes well. It's all too much and Bradley has made Colin fearless and fearful all at once. And he should fucking hate him and walk away and just leave it at that. But he can't because one of those shattering nights will happen and Colin will have all this hope, this stupid fucking hope. The thing is, how could he not? How could he not when Bradley shows up at his door and looks wrecked and desperate and fucks Colin greedily, like there's not enough of him and what there is belongs to Bradley. He has to swallow down every piece of Colin so no one else can have him. Childish greed. And Colin gets dizzy because he's so damn hot and the air is close around them and it hurts every time he touches Bradley because he burns but it only makes Colin hold on more tightly.
When they're done the sheets and blankets always end up on the floor and they're a mess across Colin's bed. Bradley opens and closes his mouth, licks his lips, as he catches his breath. He sounds like he's been running. For hours. And maybe he has, only Colin doesn't know if he's running to him or away from him. Either way it's a desperate run that leaves him exhausted and sprawled across the mattress as Colin lies next to him and holds the side of his face, rubbing his thumb slowly up and down between Bradley's eyebrows because that has always made him relax and settle back down into himself. Bradley always looks so thankful when Colin does that as his eyes droop shut and his fingers encircle Colin's wrist.
Colin always comes away from those nights a bit battered and scratched but it's okay.
Colin remembers that nighttime Bradley when he watches him on set as he goofs around and acts an idiot. He bumbles from one thing to the next, making jokes along the way. He's never serious when the cameras are off of him and he doesn't need to be. He spends so much time pretending that it makes Colin irrationally angry. When he sees him acting the fool he wants to punch him in the face then take that face in his hands and run his thumb up and down until Bradley's eyes start to droop as he tells him, 'you're so much more than this.' and 'tell me everything you know that's not foolish or a joke. please. tell it all to me.'
Colin thinks he's one to talk. He's pretending too. All of the time. He pretends the next morning that Bradley hadn't just left his bed all sleep ruffled and stumbling. He pretends not to know that Bradley is not a morning person and that he snores when he sleeps on his right side. He pretends not to love him. They're still friends, they'll always be that, so there's no pretending there. Colin doesn't know if it's sad, pathetic or funny that the one person that brews up this storm of discontent inside of him is his only shelter from it as well.
He decides to go with all three.
He's sad, pathetic and funny. A joke. He doesn't want to be any of that any more. He's always seen it but he's only just now realizing it. He needs to walk away from the nights and keep what's left of the day, that friendship that started the whole thing. They need to just be friends. Friends who take the piss out of one another and rough-house and act stupid together, not the ones that know what the inside of the other's thigh tastes like and what his mouth can do when it's dark and the other one begs. Colin shouldn't know that Bradley loves to scoot down to Colin's hip and press his nose there, against the smooth skin, as he tells Colin secrets that only makes Colin love him more.
He shouldn't know these things.
So he tells himself he doesn't. He goes back to joking with Bradley and the others and pretending like it doesn't all mean more. When Bradley comes to his door at night he smiles, says, 'early morning. sorry.' and shrugs like he regrets it - which he does, only not in the way he's meant to - and watches as Bradley looks confused, lost, and sometimes angry. He stops showing up at Bradley's door. He flirts back with the bartender at a pub they've gone to year after year; accepts his invitation to dinner after repeated requests. He laughs when the bartender, Michael, clenches his heart and pretends to faint from the shock.
He wants to cry at the look on Bradley's face.
He goes out a few times with Michael and lets everyone tease him about it, they never notice Bradley's the only one that doesn't, which Colin finds surprising since it's always been Bradley leading the way in the Taking a Piss at Colin parade.
He gets back from his third date and finds Bradley waiting for him at his door, sitting in front of it, arms wrapped around his knees. Colin can't ignore him this way. When Bradley sees him he jumps to his feet, his eyes are big and when he reaches for Colin's wrist he knows he won't say no. Bradley stays silent as he grabs Colin's keys from him and unlocks the door, pushes him inside. Everything gets dropped to the floor and there's a struggle with getting their clothes far away from each other's bodies fast enough. Bradley is frustrated and rushed and a little harsh but Colin feels his cock growing heavy and hard. He thinks he should be embarrassed by how hard he gets when Bradley pushes him onto his back on the bed and pulls at his hips, his fingers dragging over Colin's skin as he gets at his jeans and underwear to yank them both off at the same time. He should be embarrassed but he only leans up on his elbows and raises his hips, like some fucking offering but he only cares that when his cock springs free Bradley only seems more desperate to be rid of the clothes covering him.
And that's the thing with Bradley, he thinks he should feel shame, but all he feels is desired and unleashed and so fucking free that nothing will make him feel less than perfect ever again because this is the way Bradley sees him and there's nothing beyond that. The release of his nerves and inhibitions and insecurities spark along his skin and leave him when he's with Bradley. The power inside of him at the thought of it makes him drunk. Drunk with love and hope and desire.
It's one of those nights, the nights where Bradley isn't so slow and careful. Colin closes his eyes as Bradley pushes inside him, the stretch and burn hurts but the pain is delicious and instead of pulling away from it Colin only rocks his hips up into it, spreads his legs wider and digs his fingers into Bradley's hips as he pulls him down. Bradley fucks him into the bed and he wonders how he said no for so many days when there was this. He says Bradley's name over and over again and it's shocking to him how quickly he comes, he shudders with it, his legs shaking around Bradley's hips. He only realizes Bradley's stopped fucking him when the shudders stop and he opens his eyes to find him staring down at him.
"Do you love him?" Bradley asks.
And Colin decides not to embarrass them both by pretending he doesn't know what Bradley means, that he doesn't think it's the fucking stupidest thing Bradley could ever think.
Instead he takes a moment to pull Bradley deeper inside him, to brush his nose along the underside of his jaw and breathe him in, to lick at the sweaty hollow at the base of his throat. All those things, just one last time, one last time in case Bradley disappears because Colin has finally had enough and now it's all or nothing.
"No. I love you."
Bradley makes a sound like he's choking and he pulls back a bit like he's leaving and the corner of Colin's heart starts to shred, readying itself to tear completely apart.
But Bradley's not pulling away, he's trying to sit back and bring Colin with him. He reaches out with shaking arms and shoves them underneath Colin and around his shoulder blades as he drags him up to his chest and then onto this lap. Colin straddles Bradley as he fucks up into him and presses his face against Colin's chest to muffle the noises he's making. Colin thinks Bradley's probably embarrassed by them, but Colin thinks them beautiful as he pushes his hands into Bradley's hair and holds him against his chest until he comes.
Colin stays in Bradley's lap, keeps his fingers in his hair and wonders if he'll get up and walk out the door. He wants him to say or do something but that would mean giving up the quiet they have in this moment as Bradley's heart slows down in his chest and Colin holds onto him while he can.
Colin's warm everywhere his bare skin presses against Bradley's, but he's starting to shiver. Bradley rubs his hands up and down Colin's back and Colin feels a kiss against his chest. A flair of hope radiates out from the spot where Bradley pressed his lips and Colin wraps his arms around Bradley's shoulders, leans over him and hugs him. Bradley's own arms tighten around Colin's waist as he turns them and settles them both back down on the bed.
They're facing each other and Colin waits. It's up to Bradley now, what happens next. His eyes focus on Colin's mouth and he reaches out to touch Colin's bottom lip with his finger. Colin closes his eyes and lets Bradley trace his finger along his lips. When he opens them again Bradley is staring at him, waiting.
"I've loved you all along," he says, open and painfully truthful. He turns over then, reaches back for Colin's arm to wrap around his waist. Colin settles in behind him, chest to back, head sharing a pillow.
And he wonders why he hadn't seen it before; that wonderful truth.