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Killing Cats

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It starts when they’re doing the café scene, the one where Hannibal and Face have just broken BA out of prison and Liam and Bradley are sitting in one of those tiny boots, their shoulders overlapping. It’s quite early into the shoot, somewhere approaching the end of their first week, and while they’ve all made fast friends they’re also still finding their feet, both within the characters and with each other.

“And cut there!” Joe says. And then, directed at Liam and Bradley, “Nice work, boys. But let’s do another and this time try to give Hannibal and Face at least some semblance of heterosexuality, yeah?”

Everybody laughs, Bradley loudest of all, and Liam squeezes his forearm because clapping him on the back isn’t an option with how cramped they are in their position. It kind of goes downhill from there, and really, Joe should have known better than to put ideas into their heads.

On the next take Bradley makes a joke about BA falling in love in prison, and on the one after that Liam holds his hand under the table until Joe notices and yells a premature cut, pinching the bridge of his nose as Rampage can’t keep his laughter in anymore.

“Guys,” he says, torn between exasperation and amusement. “Can we not turn this into the Gay-Team?”

“Sorry, Joe,” Liam says, but he doesn’t particularly sound it.

“Alright, let’s try one more,” Joe says. “And Bradley, if you don’t stop looking at Liam like you’re about two seconds away from shoving your tongue down his throat I’m cutting the scene where you fly the tank.”

“Hey!” Bradley complains, sitting up straighter and glaring at Liam and Rampage when they only laugh. “That’s not fair! I’m wedged between a wall and six-foot-four Irishman, anyone would look like they’re about to kiss Liam.”

Joe shoots him a look like yeah sure, nice try and Liam’s regarding him with the oddest expression that makes the hairs on Bradley’s arms stand up.

On the next take, before BA joins them and when it’s just Face and Hannibal at the table, Bradley and Liam ad-libbing like there’s no tomorrow because Joe likes to make them do that, Liam, in his mediocre American accent, says, “I’ve missed you, Face.”

It throws Bradley for a loop for a second, because that’s not at all how they’ve been playing this all morning, but he grins his best Faceman grin, the one he practiced in front of the bathroom mirror, and says, “I missed you too, boss.”

Liam, or should that be Hannibal, cups his hand around Bradley’s cheek, or should that be Face, and leans in and--

No, that’s not right, is it? That’s not where it starts at all. That’s only where it begins to escalate.

***

It starts the night before, when Sharlto makes the entire cast and a good part of the crew pile into one of the hotel rooms and watch an episode of the show. Joe and Sharlto geek out, and, gradually and a little reluctantly at first, so does Rampage. Bradley ends up joining Liam by the makeshift bar that’s been made of one of the tables, but his attempts at conversation are gently rebuffed as Liam fiddles with his phone.

“So, uh,” he says, because apparently he can’t take a hint or maybe he’s just desperate to have Liam acknowledge him when they’re not Hannibal and Face. “You didn’t really watch the show either, then?”

Liam’s phone rings, and he squeezes Bradley’s shoulder in passing. “Sorry, lad, I’ve got to take this.”

“Yeah, sure. No problem,” Bradley says to no one in particular. He grabs a can of coke because his diet can fuck off, and plonks himself down on one of the sofas next to Patrick and Jessica. Patrick shoots him an odd look of sympathy over the top of her head, and Bradley’s about to ask what’s up with that when Sharlto starts singing along to the theme tune blaring through the speakers.

They all have a laugh at that, and those who actually watched the show decide they couldn’t have found a better Murdock. Sharlto looks chuffed, and Bradley has to grin and kind of wishes he had just a smidgeon of his enthusiasm for these characters.

After that, he drifts off a little, tired and not particularly interested in what’s happening on screen, and he’s startled when his elbow is nudged off the armrest. He looks up, and there’s Liam settling down on the newly vacated spot with one of those soft, warm smiles that make him look nothing like the intimidating colonel he’s supposed to be.

Bradley starts to get up to make room for him, but Liam shakes his head and pushes him back down, his hand rubbing firmly from Bradley’s neck to his shoulder a few times before the motion lapses into absently kneading his tense muscles in that easy, comfortable way Liam has with touching people. Bradley tries to focus on the TV and keeping his breathing level, and not the way Liam’s hand stays where it is, thumb slipping just below the collar of his shirt like that isn’t crossing all sorts of lines.

Bradley takes a sip of his soda to distract himself, and then immediately regrets it when Sharlto says, “The homoerotic tension between Hannibal and Face in this episode is just amazing.”

Rampage buries his face in his hands, Joe high-fives Sharlto, Patrick doubles over laughing along with everyone else and Jessica and Liam are busy patting Bradley on the back as he almost chokes to death.

They have a good laugh about it, once it’s obvious they won’t have to re-cast Face because Bradley Cooper is incapable of drinking without killing himself. Patrick makes a joke about swallowing that gets groans from everyone except Liam, who only winks and gets them laughing again, and Bradley, whose throat feels raw and face hot with embarrassment.

“Oh, give him a break, guys,” Jessica says, and Bradley shoots her a grateful look. “It’s not Bradley’s fault Face has probably been horribly repressed all his life and the wonderful world of gay sex is all new to him.”

Bradley hides his face in his hands.

There’s Liam chuckling to his left, and Jessica rubbing his arm in a way that’s probably meant to communicate that it’s all in good fun, and Liam’s hand closing around the back of his neck and squeezing and, Jesus, but that man has massive hands. Bradley groans, and everybody laughs and Liam pats his shoulder in a sympathetic sort of way, like he has any idea how Bradley feels right now.

They go back to watching the episode then, and that’s that.

Except that it isn’t. Because now, when Bradley watches Hannibal and Face interact on screen or when he memorises his lines or when he and Liam read through a new scene together, there’s always that niggling question at the back of his mind. It really shouldn’t matter, whether these characters do or do not fuck, but somehow, inexplicably, to Bradley, it does.

***

-- Joe’s yelling, “Cut, cut, fucking cut!”

Liam’s still cupping Bradley’s face in his palm, and his thumb describes an arc from his cheekbone to the corner of his mouth. He’s smiling, too close for Bradley to see anything except the way his eyes crinkle at the corners, and he kisses him on the lips.

It’s quick and dry, nothing more than a peck that ends with Liam patting his cheek and chuckling, and Bradley thinks it probably only happened to piss Joe off.

“Are you fucking serious, guys?” the director in question asks, and he looks like he’s not sure whether he wants to laugh or punch them both in the face.

“Hey, I’m innocent here!” Bradley says, and it makes Rampage double over with laughter. “Liam’s the one who did the kissing, I was just sort of present.”

“Are you complaining, then?” Liam asks, voice low and teasing and back to being Irish, and Bradley can smell his aftershave.

He says, “I, uh.”

Liam’s grin widens to show his teeth, and Joe declares it’s time they all took a fucking break.

And really, if Bradley’s completely honest with himself, where it really started was when they were introduced to each other at that very first read-through, or maybe even before, when his agent called to say Liam Neeson had been cast as Hannibal. He still, despite his aspirations to stop lying to himself, likes to think that nothing would ever have come of it if it weren’t for the rest of the cast.

***

It’s their last lunch break before the weekend and they’re all a little tired, a lot ready to call it a day, but for once almost all of them, except for Liam who’s had a slight wardrobe malfunction, are gathered around a little camping table by the catering van, soaking up sun and goofing around. The last few days have been fairly uneventful, Liam and Bradley only getting maybe one or two reminders per scene to tone down the homo as Joe is kept busy by Sharlto and Rampage causing mayhem all over the set, but they’ve been exhausting nonetheless.

“So,” Patrick says, turning towards Bradley, “what’s up with you and Liam?”

Jessica kicks him under the table without subtlety and glares over the top of her soda can, and Patrick makes a show of pretending he’s actually hurt. She rolls her eyes and says, “Just ignore him, Brad.”

Bradley tries to take her advice, and pokes his salad as he watches Jessica take a bite of delicious-looking sandwich. “How come I get rabbit food and you guys get to eat, like, actual food?” he asks, longingly gazing at all the carbs he’s not allowed to have.

“Because you’re the pretty one in this movie, Cooper,” Patrick says matter-of-factly, and Rampage and Jessica laugh loudly as Bradley glares.

“Besides,” Sharlto throws in, dipping his fries in ketchup, “you’ll want to look mouth-wateringly good for when Liam lets you out of that tanning booth half-naked.”

“I will?” Bradley asks dubiously.

Sharlto nods, then shrugs, and says, “Well, Face would want to look good for Hannibal, I reckon.”

“I swear you’re making it sound like those two are head-over-heels for each other, man,” Bradley says, shaking his head.

“Who’s to say they aren’t?” Sharlto asks, seemingly unfazed by the idea.

“Uh,” Bradley says, “for one thing they’re friends, more than friends really; they’re about as much family as either of them’s ever going to get. Besides, they’re manly guys. And they’re Rangers. Yeah, not really seeing it.”

“I hate to break it to you,” Patrick cuts in, “but you’ve been doing a pretty shit job at making them seem like manly, hetero dudes. I mean, fuck, you look like you’re about this close to begging Liam to shove his dick up your ass ninety per cent of the t— Ow!”

Jessica’s glaring at Patrick again and shaking her head.

“Aw, hell,” Rampage complains, pushing his plate away from him. “I did not need that image in my head, man.”

“I’m not, I mean, I don’t,” Bradley stumbles over the words, and he’s really not entirely sure what he wants to say anyway, and it makes Patrick laugh. “Shut up, dude.”

“Oh, you’re cute when you’re embarrassed,” he says, and Jessica can’t quite suppress the chuckle that bubbles up in her throat.

“Oh, fuck you,” Bradley snaps, and then realises he’s overreacting when they all stop laughing.

“Aw, come on,” Patrick says, nudging Bradley with his elbow. “We’re just kidding around.”

“Yeah, I know,” Bradley says, rubbing the bridge of his nose so he doesn’t have to look at any of them. “Sorry. I’m just tired. It’s been a long week.”

An assenting murmur goes around the table and Patrick, bless him, is back to annoying the shit out of Jessica in about ten seconds flat while Rampage and Sharlto start plotting a Nerf gun assault on their poor director. They chat about inane, inconsequential little things, until, by the time Liam joins them a good fifteen minutes later, grumbling about costume and immediately starting to wolf down his lunch, Bradley’s actually laughing again.

“Great timing, Liam,” Patrick says, and the man in question raises an inquiring eyebrow in lieu of speaking with his mouth full. “We were just talking about Bradley taking it up the ass.”

Bradley chokes on his water, and then chokes harder when Liam swallows and says, “Have we covered the importance of lube yet?”

“Ooh yes, lube,” Patrick says, not missing a beat. “You can never have too much lube, really. You might want to write this down, Brad.”

“I do not,” Bradley gasps in between coughs, as Jessica hands him napkins to mop up the water he spat out, “want to write this down, dude.”

“And condoms, of course,” Liam says, like Bradley hasn’t even spoken. “Might be a good idea to just use fingers for a start, though. Get him to loosen up and all that.”

“The fuck, man,” Rampage says, putting his hands over his ears.

“And someone who’s more experienced than himself,” Sharlto supplies helpfully. “Wouldn’t want to put him off the whole thing forever just because no one knows what they’re doing.”

“I think he should try it with a girl his first time,” Jessica throws in, looking entirely too collected as they all stare at her. “Ease him into the whole thing if he’s not comfortable with the idea of being with another guy.”

They blink at her for a few moments, and then Patrick says, “I’m sorry, but I think you’re missing the whole point of this a bit.”

“And I think,” Jessica says, stealing some of the watermelon that poses as Bradley’s desert, “you’re missing the whole awesomeness of pegging a bit.”

There’s a beat of silence, and then they’re all bursting into laughter and catcalls. Liam actually offers Jessica a fist-bump, like she’s just won some sort of unspoken competition of badassery, and Bradley knocks his forehead against the table like he hopes it’ll make all of this un-happen.

They’re trying to kill him, he swears.

***

Bradley finds himself alone with Liam as they take the elevator up to their respective floors at the hotel that night, and he says, “Look, about earlier.”

Liam leans against the wall next to him, watches Bradley as Bradley watches the little screen counting up to their destinations, and says, “What about it?”

Bradley shrugs, and says, “I’m sorry, I guess. About all the gay jokes.”

Liam is quiet for a moment, studying him, and then he looks away and says, “Are you? Gay, I mean.”

“No,” Bradley says too quickly, and he’s not sure whether he’s lying or not but he is sure that this isn’t something you ask another man, least of all in their line of work. “No, man, I’m not.”

Liam hums in acknowledgement, and when Bradley sneaks a look at him he’s impassive, busy watching their distorted reflections in the doors.

“Are you gay?” Bradley asks, and then immediately wishes he could take the words back.

Liam shrugs, nonchalant and unworried, and says, “Occasionally.”

Bradley doesn’t really know what to say to that, what it even means, but he’s let off the hook as the elevator arrives on Liam’s floor.

“See you on Monday, lad,” he says as he steps out, and his smile is as warm and genuine as ever.

“Yeah,” Bradley says, and the doors slide shut, “right.”

***

“You really think they’re doing it, then?” Bradley asks during one of their coffee breaks a few days later, taking the seat next to Sharlto. “Hannibal and Face,” he clarifies when Sharlto frowns at him, “you really think they’re gay for each other?”

He puts down the script he’s been trying to read and turns fully towards Bradley, and he sounds genuinely curious when he asks, “Why does this bother you so much?”

“It doesn’t,” Bradley lies, and burns his mouth on the mediocre coffee.

Sharlto says, “Right.”

“Honestly,” Bradley insists, scratching his neck where the artful stubble is starting to get seriously itchy, “it doesn’t. I’m just curious.”

Sharlto snorts. “No shit,” he says, and Bradley doesn’t really know what to reply to that.

They’re sitting outside by Sharlto’s trailer, the weather too nice to go inside where it’s less bright and more air-conditioned, and this part of the set is quiet and almost empty just now. Liam and Rampage, along with most of the crew, are filming the scene where Hannibal shoots BA in the arm, and it gives Bradley and Sharlto an unusual amount of free time.

Bradley checks his watch, and says, “They’ll probably be done soon.”

Sharlto hums and goes back to his script, unexpectedly and entirely unnecessarily going over his lines; they both know he’ll just make them up when they get to it anyway, which means he genuinely doesn’t want to be having this conversation.

Bradley’s quiet for a few moments, blowing on the surface of his coffee and drinking it in small, perfunctory sips while Sharlto pretends to be engrossed in the scene they’ll be doing later. They could be sitting in comfortable silence, enjoying a rare break in the middle of a busy day during a busier week, but Sharlto seems unusually tense and Bradley’s thrumming with nervous energy.

“Look,” he says eventually, and Sharlto sighs in exasperation and gives up on trying to ignore him.

“Seriously, man,” Sharlto says, studying Bradley’s face, “why is this bothering you so much?” Bradley opens his mouth to repeat that it isn’t bothering him, but Sharlto ploughs ahead, “So what if Hannibal and Face are secretly banging each other? What does it matter?”

Bradley shrugs, laughing through his discomfort, “I don’t know, you tell me. You’re the one who grew up watching the show.” He looks down into his paper cup, cradles it between both palms and follows a drop of coffee down the side with his thumb to catch it before it lands on his pants. “Wouldn’t it, like, change how you see them?”

Sharlto rolls his shoulders and grimaces, going quiet for a few seconds as he seems to seriously consider the question. Then he says, “Nah, it wouldn’t.”

“It wouldn’t?”

“No, not really,” Sharlto says, almost apologetic about it.

“So you’re saying it wouldn’t change a thing if it turned out Hannibal Smith’s been taking it up the ass all this time?” Bradley presses.

Sharlto shrugs again, like he can’t quite see the issue at hand, and says, “Why would it change anything? He’d still be the crazy, badass colonel everyone loves.” A smile tugs at the corners of his mouth and his eyes sparkle with mirth. “Besides, I’m pretty sure if anyone’s taking it up the ass in that relationship it’s Face.”

“What?” Bradley squawks, cheeks burning. “Why is Face—“

He never gets to finish his complaint as Sharlto cuts him off with a kiss. It’s just their mouths pressed together at first, all shared breaths and Sharlto’s hand twisted in the front of Bradley’s shirt, turning into a handful of short, soft kisses when Bradley relaxes into it. His eyes are closed and he’s focused entirely on the sensation of another man’s mouth against his own, and it’s incredibly nice. He hasn’t done this in a long while, what with Hollywood working the way it does and reputations being what they are, and he can admit now, at least to himself, that he’s missed it.

Sharlto’s tongue tip traces the seam of his lips, and Bradley parts them without thinking about it. It’s heat and wetness and a little frisson of want going through Bradley, and he drops his paper cup, making lukewarm coffee splash over his trousers.

He breaks away with a muttered “fuck”, and Sharlto prods him in the chest until he stops ineffectually swiping at the stained fabric and meets his eye.

“They very obviously care about each other,” he says, and Bradley doesn’t quite understand why he’s being offered an answer now if Sharlto refused to even acknowledge the question just ten minutes ago. “All of them do. Whether any of them are romantically involved or not doesn’t really figure into that, you know.”

“Right,” Bradley says quietly, and they’re still leaning into each other. He swallows hard and resists the urge to close the gap between them for another kiss, and isn’t Sharlto straight anyway?

“Besides,” Sharlto says with a teasing grin as he gets up, “what’s a little anal sex between friends, eh?”

Bradley’s suddenly extremely glad he no longer has any coffee to choke on, and his laughter sounds a little hysterical even to his own ears.

Sharlto pats his shoulder in something akin to sympathy, though Bradley sincerely doubts he’s anything even approaching sympathetic, and says, “Better get a change of trousers before you’re needed back on set.”

“Shit,” Bradley groans, dropping his head back against the wall of Sharlto’s trailer. “Costume’s gonna kill me. They’ve been pissed off ever since Liam managed to burn a hole into his jacket.”

Sharlto huffs out a laugh and, quick as a wink, leans down to press an open-mouthed kiss to Bradley’s exposed throat. Bradley gasps and nearly topples out of the chair, and he’s about to just come out and ask what the fuck is going on because he sure as hell doesn’t have a clue, but an intern’s shown up to let them know Joe’s ready for them now.

It leaves Bradley with no other option than to make a dash back to costume to beg for a new pair of pants, and he could swear Sharlto’s just doing this for shits and giggles. It wouldn’t be surprising either, because that’s exactly the sort of thing Murdock would do, and there’s a reason they cast Sharlto to play the mad pilot. And really, it’s not a big deal, cast-mates and co-stars kiss all the time, affairs on set are a given; there’s nothing truly scandalous or shocking about it. Except that they weren’t drunk and fooling around in a dark club or having a quickie in someone’s hotel room; they were both stone cold sober and in broad daylight, and there’s no ill-advised game of truth or dare to blame their actions on.

Bradley doesn’t know what to make of it, and by the time he’s ditched the stained pants and exchanged them for clean ones by grovelling and charming for all he’s worth, he’s managed to turn the whole incident into something massive and life-altering in his head. He knows it’s ridiculous, but Bradley’s a worrier and when he makes it back to the rest of the crew he’s actually dreading seeing Sharlto.

“Cooper, can you stop having beverage related incidents?” Joe calls, and Bradley flips him the bird even as he laughs along with everyone else.

They get to work pretty quickly then, all of them intent on finishing this scene so they can go home for the day, and gradually, with every joke from Sharlto and every snorting laugh from Liam and every helpless giggle from Rampage, the tension coiled in Bradley's gut eases. When they've finally got everything they need he's almost forgotten that he and Sharlto ever kissed, because nothing's changed, nothing's different between them at all, and maybe that was the whole point of it.

***

"Is it just me or has Liam been a bit," Jessica pauses, makes a face and gestures vaguely with her hand, "odd lately?"

"Has he?" Bradley asks, and he's not sure why she thinks Liam's been behaving strangely when she hasn't even done any scenes with any of them today.

She shrugs, cautiously sips her tea, and says, "He just seemed sort of tense when he went for his trailer, I don't know." She frowns, shrugs, and then appears to shake herself. "It's probably nothing. I just thought I'd ask seeing as you're the one he'd probably tell if anything was up."

"Me?" Bradley says, and then feels himself flush at the sheer hope and surprise in that one word.

Jessica smiles, and it's a kind smile with none of the teasing edge he so often sees on her, and she says, "I'll see you tomorrow, Brad."

"Yeah, sure," he says, even though she's already out of earshot. "See you."

***

"Hold on a second," Liam calls from inside his trailer, followed by a muffled crash and a few curses, and Bradley winces. The door opens to reveal Liam looking slightly ruffled, with his shirt hanging halfway open and his jeans done up wrong, but he smiles a little when he sees it's Bradley who knocked. "Hey, Brad. Did you need something?"

Bradley blinks a few times, admires how much younger Liam looks without that wig on and sincerely wishes he wasn't so easily distracted by the way he leans in the doorway, all long lines and fluid movement, and says, "Uh, no. Not really."

Liam waits for him to go on, but Bradley finds he can only shrug because he really, honestly doesn't know why he's here, and he hates Jessica a tiny bit just then; she knows full well that he’s the kind of person who’ll poke a sleeping bear with a stick just to see what happens.

"Well, in that case," Liam says, bewildered but trying not to let it show, straightening and getting ready to close the door on Bradley again, "can this wait until tomorrow? I was kind of in the middle of something."

"Oh, um, yeah, no," Bradley says, and wants to smack himself in the face because he still hasn’t got a good reason to be here. "It's fine, I can wait while you get dressed."

Liam smiles, and it's a little awkward, a tiny bit embarrassed around the edges, and it looks entirely alien and terribly endearing on his face. "Uh, Bradley?"

"Yeah?"

"When I said I was in the middle of something, I sort of meant something a bit more private," he says, and Bradley doesn't understand until Liam makes a helpful explanatory hand gesture.

"Oh," he says, and he can fucking feel his eyes widen. "Oh!"

"Yeah," Liam says, rubbing the back of his neck and looking a little sheepish, and all Bradley can think about is where that hand was just a few moments ago, before he interrupted. Then he wonders if Liam doesn't perhaps prefer using his left, and he only realises he's staring when Liam inspects his hand like he expects to find something on it that's drawn Bradley's attention.

Bradley looks away and clears his throat, and says, "Right, I, uh, sorry."

"Nothing to worry about," Liam says easily, and then raises his brows when Bradley still makes no move to leave. "Well, then. Unless you want to stay for the show, I'll see you tomorrow."

It's meant as a joke, Bradley knows, said with the kind of humour he himself so often uses to cover up discomfort, but the next words come out anyway: "I do."

Liam pauses mid-motion, door in hand and genuine surprise flickering over his features, and he laughs a little when he says, "I beg your pardon?"

“I do,” Bradley repeats, trying to sound unfazed and confident, and he swears he doesn’t know why he’s doing this. “Want to stay, that is.” Liam studies him, amused and maybe a bit intrigued, and there’s nothing intimidating about him in that moment, not really, but Bradley backs down anyway. “If that’s okay, I mean.”

Liam snorts, smiling one of those warm, eye-crinkling smiles again, but this time there’s something else in it, something less friendly and more feral, and it prickles hot over Bradley’s bare arms. Liam’s grin widens and he chuckles, stepping back to hold the door open for Bradley, and with mock-relief he says, “I thought you’d never ask.”

It makes Bradley laugh as the door snicks shut behind him, and he bats his lashes at Liam when he says, “Why, I had no idea you wanted me to.”

Liam snorts again and tweaks Bradley’s ear in passing, the comfortable, effortless joking between them leaving no room for tension or awkwardness, and he drops down onto the small sofa he must have been sitting on before he was interrupted. Without ceremony or preamble he unbuttons his jeans and pulls his cock out, a quiet hum escaping him as he squeezes once before he starts stroking, and Bradley perches on the edge of the little table in the kitchen area of the trailer. He watches Liam manipulate himself back to full hardness, both of them looking at his cock as it thickens and lengthens in the cradle of his big palm, and Bradley licks his lips.

“Suddenly all those cock jokes make a lot more sense,” he says, and Liam huffs out a laugh that’s a little breathless, thumb and forefinger toying with his foreskin. “A lot more sense.”

Liam meets his eye and winks as he licks his palm, and it has Bradley laughing again. Consciously, logically, he knows this should be awkward, a little uncomfortable and all the more exciting for it, but the truth is that it just isn’t.

It’s exciting alright, so much that it’s a very real possibility Bradley will manage to stain another pair of pants before the week is over, but it’s also terribly easy to just fall into it without being nervous. Maybe it’s the fact that Liam’s so casual about it, just sitting there jerking off in front of Bradley like he does it all the time, and that, Bradley thinks, is exactly why it isn’t weird: Liam does do this all the time, and that Bradley’s here to watch it doesn’t change a thing in his mind. He’s not putting on a show, not making more sound than he probably does when he’s alone, doesn’t take anything off he doesn’t need to and Bradley may as well not be here at all, really. This is Liam doing what he would have done if no one had come knocking on his door: have a quick wank before he goes home.

Liam’s casual attitude, the practiced flicks of his wrist and the idiosyncratic intervals at with his fingers come up to rub and pinch the swollen head of his cock, none of it designed to draw him out or be anything special on account of his audience, is more erotic than any of the things he could have done for Bradley’s benefit, and it makes Bradley moan softly.

Liam grins at him, breathing harder now, and then tilts his head back with a low groan as pre-come bursts over his fingers. His eyes are shut and his hips are twitching off the couch and up into his tightening fist, his legs spread obscenely and entire body tensing. The tendons in his neck are straining, his brow creases and crumples, and his strokes are getting quicker, shorter, intent on just getting off.

He comes with a hitch of breath and a drawn-out groan rumbling deep in his chest, back arched and his free palm cupped over the head of his twitching cock to catch his release as he squeezes himself through it.

Bradley says, “Fuck,” and it comes out a little awed.

Liam cracks an eye open, a lazy smile spreading across his face, his chest still heaving, and says, “I’ll take that as a compliment.”

Bradley chews his lip, takes a deep breath through his nose and watches Liam pluck a tissue from the box on the tiny coffee table to wipe his hand on. “That was,” he says, trailing off as Liam tucks himself back in, still entirely casual about this, at ease in his own skin and sexuality, and Bradley envies him that. “I should probably get going.”

Liam grins at him with too many teeth, entirely too knowing as he leans forward to toss the crumpled tissue in the bin, and says, “You’re about two minutes away from coming in your pants, aren’t you?”

A little jolt goes through Bradley’s body at that, at the blunt words and at the way they’re said, and it doesn’t escape Liam. “I’m not,” Bradley says with a choked laugh, dismissive and suddenly embarrassed, and rubs his hand over his mouth.

“Okay, then,” Liam says, getting up and closing the distance between them. “One minute. I bet I could make you come in a minute without even touching your cock.”

“You are so full of shit, do you know that?” Bradley says, a little hysterical and a lot turned on as Liam traps him against the little kitchen unit, legs falling open without so much as a nudge from the older man.

“Less than a minute,” Liam promises, close enough now that Bradley can feel the heat of his breath, smell his skin and his soap and his sweat. His voice is pitched lower, his accent more pronounced than Bradley’s ever heard it before, and it makes him moan and arch into all of it.

Liam moves with him, though, pulling back as Bradley pushes forward, fluidly maintaining that tiny bit of distance between them, and Bradley makes a needy, unhappy noise in the back of his throat.

There’s fondness in Liam’s smile, and he leans in to blow onto the spot just below Bradley’s ear, his nose barely brushing against the shell, and it gets him a shiver and a sharp intake of breath. He braces himself against the wall with his forearms on either side of Bradley’s head, still not quite touching him, and murmurs, “I saw you the other day, you and Sharlto.” Bradley jerks in surprise and embarrassment, the need to evade and explain and excuse overwhelming, but Liam doesn’t let him get a word out. “Keep your hands where they are,” he says, the way Hannibal might suggest Face do as he’s told or else, if Hannibal was more Irish and Face less confident. The point still stands, though, and Bradley’s hands go back to clenching around the edge of the table. “Good lad.”

“Liam,” Bradley says, and his throat feels dry.

“Shh,” Liam breathes against his mouth, their noses bumping lightly and their lips almost brushing. “You looked good together.” He shifts subtly, just enough to make Bradley aware of how little space there is between their groins. “It’s a shame you didn’t have time to do anything more than kiss before the break was over. I would have liked to see that.”

Bradley moans, looking down to where Liam’s hips move back every time his own twitch forward, and then drops his head back against the wall with a strangled curse. Liam chuckles, the sound filthy and full of sex, and Bradley could swear he can feel his fingers as they trace the lines of his exposed throat, though there’s still no contact between them, just the phantom touch of Liam’s body all along his own.

“Would you like that?” he asks, and Bradley closes his eyes because he thinks if he keeps them open Liam could see more than he’s willing to show. “Would you like me watching you get fucked?”

Bradley’s jaw clenches and he swallows hard, unsure whether he’s meant to be responding, whether this is something that actually turns Liam on or if he’s just saying what he thinks Bradley will get off on. He’s horribly close to coming, and irrationally afraid of it.

“Or maybe you’d like to have my cock in your mouth while you’re taking it,” Liam suggests, voice rough and pornographic against Bradley’s ear. “I want to come in your mouth, Bradley.”

“Liam,” he says, pleading without really knowing what he’s asking for. “Liam, I’ll.” He can’t say it, can’t say anything really, trapped by his own awkwardness in the face of Liam’s confidence, and he moans helplessly as his cock throbs in his pants.

“That’s it,” Liam encourages, mouthing along his throat without touching. “Come on, baby. Come for me.”

Bradley shakes his head, his eyes are still closed and he’s panting through his nose like he’s run a marathon, and his head is full of the sort of images he’d dream up to jerk off to; his head cradled in Liam’s big palms as his mouth is fucked, Liam’s cock, Liam jerking off, Liam jerking him off, Liam’s face when he comes, the two of them fucking right here on this tiny table. He groans, wants Liam to touch him and wants him to stop, and can’t decide which he wants more.

“Come on,” Liam coaxes, breaking through Bradley’s thoughts, and gently nips at the hinge of his clenched jaw. “Stop thinking and just let it go. You want to come, don’t you? You know you do. Just let go, baby. Let me see you come.”

Bradley bites his lip to keep the sound he wants to make in, but it still escapes, a little choked and muffled but an undeniable whine nonetheless.

“Let me hear you,” Liam says, somehow gentle and demanding all at once. His thumb slides along the seam of Bradley’s mouth, lips pressed together painfully tightly, and he nudges and prods until he opens up, slips his thumb right in to rub over his tongue, just once, back and forth, before he pulls out again, and Bradley can taste the remnants of his come.

He moans, and Liam makes an encouraging little sound.

“There you go,” he murmurs, thumb wet with Bradley’s own saliva as he slides it along the underside of his chin.

Bradley’s legs twitch and he can feel a trickle of pre-come escaping the tip of his cock to create a wet spot on his pants, and Liam experimentally scrapes his thumbnail over the same bit of stubbly skin he just touched. Bradley moans again, knuckles going white where he’s holding on to the table for dear life, and he’s sure if he opened his eyes he’d find Liam grinning.

“Come on,” he says again, sounding turned on even though his own orgasm wasn’t long ago, and holds Bradley’s head between his hands to tip it back further and expose the soft skin of his throat. “Come on, lad.”

Bradley groans, long and loud, when Liam traces the underside of his jaw first with his calloused thumbs and then with his tongue. “I can’t,” he insists, though he knows it’s a lost cause at this point, with Liam’s voice and his smell and the heat of his body all around him.

“Of course you can,” Liam says against his throat, and the vibrations of his voice make Bradley gasp and buck his hips forward.

Liam does nothing to re-establish the distance between their bodies this time, seemingly okay with Bradley grinding his crotch against his hip, and delivers a sucking bite to that horribly sensitive bit of flesh below Bradley’s chin. The pain is sharp and shocking, in stark contrast to the softness of Liam’s tongue as it rasps over stubble, and there’s nothing Bradley can do to stop himself from shouting something nonsensical and coming in his pants, trapped between Liam and the flimsy trailer wall with the edges of the table digging into his ass and big hands pinning him as his muscles convulse.

His orgasm leaves Bradley reeling, head spinning and blood rushing in his ears, and he can’t seem to get his breath back. Liam is kissing along his throat, one hand kneading the back of Bradley’s neck while the other drops to his lap to open his pants and play with his cock, softening and sticky-hot with come.

Bradley makes a desperate noise, squeezing his eyes shut more tightly, and he feels suddenly overwhelmed; embarrassed and humiliated and far too exposed.

“Bradley,” Liam says, and runs the backs of his fingers down a flushed cheek. “Look at me.”

Bradley shakes his head, wanting to hide and childishly hoping if he just keeps his eyes closed Liam won’t see. He’s not sure what, precisely, it is that he’s so embarrassed about, why it’s such a big deal that Liam’s made him come; after all, he’s seen Liam come, too.

“Come on, lad,” Liam says, hand still around Bradley’s cock, now soft and almost uncomfortably sensitive. “Open your eyes.”

Bradley shakes his head again, and Liam kisses the tip of his nose. His eyes open in surprise, and Liam looks entirely too pleased with himself.

“There we go. That wasn’t so bad, was it?” he says with an annoyingly nice smile, and Bradley glares. Liam’s expression softens, and he pulls his hand out of Bradley’s pants and puts it on his waist instead, mindless of the fact that he’s getting come everywhere. “Hey,” he says, concern creasing his brow. “That was beautiful. You’ve got nothing to be ashamed of.”

Bradley snorts and looks away, still unsure how he feels about this, how he wants to feel about it.

Liam takes his chin between thumb and forefinger and, gently but firmly, makes Bradley turn his head back to meet his eye. “If I did something you didn’t want me to do, I’m sorry.” He sounds terribly serious and sincere when he says it, and Bradley has to swallow against the odd tightening of his throat. “But if this is just some bullshit pride or masculinity issue you better fucking get over it, because I’m not about to hold your hand through an entirely unwarranted identity crisis.”

Bradley pushes him away, wanting space and air, and hisses, “Unwarranted? Dude, you just made me come in my pants without even touching my dick, I think a bit of a crisis is to be expected.”

Liam sighs and rolls his eyes, wiping his hand across his chest and smearing Bradley’s come over his shirt, and his voice is uncompromising but not unkind when he says, “Bradley, listen to me because I’ll only say this once: The kind of sex you have does not define the kind of person you are.”

“I know that!” Bradley snaps, rubbing a hand over his face and wincing at the uncomfortable stickiness cooling between his legs.

“Do you?” Liam asks, oddly gentle.

Bradley takes a deep breath, and lets it out slowly. “Yeah, maybe not,” he admits, scratching at his stubble. “Sorry about that.”

Liam catches him in a hug, kissing the top of his head, and says, “No harm done, lad.”

“So, we can do this again?” Bradley asks, pressing his nose against Liam’s pulse point and breathing him in, all heat and sex and solid.

Liam laughs, low and relaxed, and says, “I’d like that, yeah.”

They kiss, then, and as their tongues slide together and Bradley familiarises himself with the taste and texture of Liam’s mouth he thinks that they’re doing this the wrong way round; knowing what the other looks like when he comes before they’ve even kissed. But somehow that’s okay, in the way that some things just are.

***

“Some of the cast and crew are going out for drinks tonight, you want to come?” Sharlto asks, and it’s such a normal thing to ask a co-worker that it almost feels like they’re leading quiet lives with office jobs and after-work trips to the bar.

Then Joe stops by and says, “We’ll blow up the container after lunch today,” and the notion dissolves in the face of the life they actually lead.

Bradley says something in acknowledgement, and Jessica rubs her hands together and gets that excited, slightly manic look in her eye that usually precedes scenes where stuff gets shot at, blown up or generally fucked with.

“So, what do you say?” Sharlto asks again, when Joe’s left them to enjoy the last few minutes of their break. “You coming with us?”

“Yeah, sure,” Jessica says, grinning like she’s genuinely pleased they’re inviting her along, and Bradley realises that despite her character’s importance to the movie she’s not as involved in all this, not on set as often as most of the guys are.

“Awesome,” Sharlto says, returning the grin and bumping fists with her, and then turns to Bradley. “What about you, Brad?”

“Sorry, man,” Bradley says, rubbing his chin and reaching for his bottled water with the other. “Liam and I were planning to watch a movie tonight.” He feels a bit embarrassed about it, like he’s fifteen again and telling his mum he’s going on a date, though he really doesn’t think Liam was asking him out when he suggested pizza and a movie in his hotel room.

Sharlto just shrugs, and he’s still smiling when he says, “Alright, then. Maybe next time, yeah?”

“Yeah, definitely,” Bradley says, and Sharlto wanders off again in search of Rampage; they’ve been engaged in some sort of elaborate hoax in which Rampage is an African king and Sharlto his interpreter, and it’s only a matter of time before Joe’s well-tried patience snaps and he strangles them. It’s hilarious to watch, though.

“You’re good together,” Jessica says after a moment, blunt and gentle all at once, “you and Liam.”

He looks at her, where she’s sitting next to him and stirring more milk into her coffee, and says, “We’re not together,” because they really aren’t.

She shrugs, takes a sip of coffee and then adds more sugar, and says, “Still, you’re good for each other.”

“But we’re not—“

Jessica waves her hand dismissively, and says, “Yeah, yeah, I get it. You’re manly men, no homo and definitely no emotions.” She puts down her cup, giving up on trying to adjust the taste for now, and leans back in her chair. “I just meant that you seem to make each other happy,” she says, meeting Bradley’s eye, and there’s no judgement or teasing in her gaze. “It’s good to see you happy.”

“Okay,” Bradley says, because he doesn’t know what else to say, and he’s worried he’ll start smiling like an idiot and launch into a breathless account of all the ways Liam makes him happy, because it isn’t like that.

Jessica holds his gaze a moment longer, and then she nods like she’s satisfied with what she sees and goes back to adding condiments to her coffee.

Bradley relaxes back into his own chair, and tugs at the label on his water bottle as he wonders why it always all seems so clear when he’s with Liam, why it was so easy to just fall into each other and why everyone else seems to think there’s more to it than there is.

“So,” Jessica says, the edge back in her smile, “how true are the rumours about the kraken in his pants?”

Bradley closes his eyes and laughs helplessly, and thanks the powers that be that he managed not to choke or spill anything on himself for a change.

***

It’s all about curiosity, Bradley thinks, this whole thing that he and Liam have going on. At first it was wanting to see how far they could push Joe, wanting to find out where the line between subtly homoerotic tension and completely gay for each other lay. Then, at least on Bradley’s part, it was needing to know where they stood with each other, and now that they’ve settled all that their curiosity has taken on a whole new form.

It’s wondering if they’ll get away with having a quickie during coffee breaks, if Bradley can keep his face blank when Liam jerks him off under the table with everyone gathered for lunch, or if Liam can keep quiet enough for Bradley to blow him in the men’s room of an out-of-the-way bar. It’s wanting to know whether anyone’s going to say something when they show up on set with stupid grins on their faces and bite marks on their necks, and how often Liam can make Bradley come before he just can’t anymore.

It’s thrilling and a little foolish, a bit reckless, but Bradley’s far too curious about far too many things and Liam is far too indulgent where he’s concerned. Nothing ever happens; nothing goes wrong and there aren’t any repercussions, not unless one counts Patrick’s continuing jokes and Joe’s near-constant exasperation because Hannibal and Face are not supposed to be giving each other long, meaningful looks, damn it.

Still, it’s not particularly responsible, screwing around on set and then staying up for most of the night screwing some more to show up bleary-eyed and fucked out the next morning, but they do it anyway.

And that’s how, after three weeks of fun and orgasms and Liam being wonderfully casual and comfortable about everything, Bradley musters up the courage to say, “So, how do you feel about rimming?”

Liam pauses where he’s scraping his teeth against Bradley’s ribs to look up, and then grins and tries to nudge him over on his front.

“No,” Bradley says, looking up at the hotel room ceiling and feeling his cheeks burn. He takes a breath, and another, and exhales shakily as Liam kisses his belly and waits him out. “I mean, uh.”

“You’d like to do me,” Liam finishes for him, and Bradley loves him for it.

“Yeah,” he says, and makes himself look at Liam, a little afraid of what he’ll see. “Yeah, I’d like to.”

Liam’s grin widens, and with one last nip to Bradley’s hipbone he pulls away and flops down on his front on the other side of the bed. Bradley rolls onto his side and watches Liam pillow his head on his crossed arms, scoots closer and wordlessly asks for kisses, and gets them. He strokes his hand down Liam’s back, rubbing here and there to loosen tense muscles, and Liam lightly bites his tongue to urge him on.

He knows Bradley’s stalling, and Bradley knows that he knows, so he breaks their kiss and sits up to straddle Liam’s thighs. He’s unsure what to do, self-conscious now that he’s here, and he places open-mouthed kisses along the dips and curves of Liam’s spine to buy himself some time. Liam makes a low, happy noise, body relaxing and melting into the mattress, and Bradley moves a little lower, sucking on the soft skin at the small of Liam’s back.

Liam sighs and shifts his hips, and Bradley licks from his balls to the top of his crack, nipping at one buttock before using his thumbs to spread them apart. His nervousness evaporates in his excitement, cock sliding against the back of Liam’s leg as he prods at the tight hole with the tip of his tongue, then flattens it to rub over the twitching muscle. Liam moans into the pillow, low and wanton, and Bradley’s fairly certain he’s never heard him make that sound before.

It’s a heady feeling, having Liam under him like that, moaning and spreading his legs apart as he’s tongued and licked. Bradley can’t keep his own noises in either, and when he nudges and wriggles his tongue against that clenched muscle and inside Liam thrashes and pushes back against his face. He laughs, and has to pin Liam’s hips to the bed to keep him still.

“Good?” he asks, scraping his teeth along Liam’s perineum, and his voice comes out low and dirty.

Liam spits out the corner of the pillow he’s been biting, and says, “Yeah.”

His voice is breathier than it usually is when he’s turned on and he’s more pliant, less bossy as well, and isn’t that interesting?

“You’re really getting off on this, aren’t you?” Bradley says, a little surprised that Liam likes being held down and awed that he’s letting him.

Liam says, “Nngh.” He rubs his thigh against Bradley’s cock where it’s hot and heavy and wet with pre-come. “You telling me I’m the only one, lad?”

Bradley chuckles and slides his tongue back between Liam’s cheeks, buries his face against all that flushed skin, and one of Liam’s hands comes around to hold Bradley’s head in place as he pumps his hips into the mattress. Bradley takes hold of that hand and puts it back onto the bed where it immediately clenches around the duvet, and Liam moans and grinds his hips down, making those short, sharp noises that he always makes when he’s getting close.

Bradley redoubles his efforts, a little dizzy and jaw aching, and all of it only serving to spur him on as he holds Liam open and rubs his tongue over his entrance, pushing against the muscle. Liam shouts his name into the pillow, shuddering and bucking and moaning when Bradley keeps him firmly pinned with a forearm across his lower back, and he seems to come forever.

He goes utterly limp then, panting harshly and making small, incoherent sounds every once in a while as Bradley sits up, wipes his mouth on the back of his hand and then rubs Liam’s back until he seems to have his breath back.

“Didn’t have you pegged for the kind of guy who liked to be held down in bed,” Bradley says softly, and he hopes it doesn’t come across as rude.

Liam hums, a low, relaxed sound that vibrates through Bradley and makes him moan quietly, and he says, “Didn’t have you pegged for the kind of guy who liked to hold anyone down in bed.”

Bradley laughs and Liam chuckles, and this is what he likes best about this thing between them: how easily they laugh together, whether they’re on set and clapping each other on the back or in bed with Bradley’s legs hooked over Liam’s shoulders. It takes off a lot of the pressure Bradley so easily feels in these situations, makes whatever they’ve got going feel casual and effortless and like it doesn’t matter if it’s all just down to curiosity, to wanting to feel good.

And it does feel good; feels better when Liam shifts and Bradley’s cock slips between his spread thighs; feels fucking amazing when Liam squeezes his legs together, creating a cradle for Bradley’s erection.

Bradley moans, and Liam lets his legs fall open again. He almost complains, and an unhappy noise does escape him, but Liam’s reaching for the lube on the nightstand and tosses it to Bradley with a wink and a warm smile. The cold gel is squirted onto Liam’s upper thighs, making goose bumps race across his skin, and he twists his head again to look at Bradley over his shoulder.

Bradley bends to kiss his spine, licks at the salty residue of sweat and sex there, and slides his cock right back between Liam’s legs, groaning at the feel of those muscles squeezing him. Liam is quick to get with the program, flexing his thighs and holding mostly still as Bradley thrusts into all that tight slickness, and he makes the occasional encouraging noise or murmurs filthy things to spur Bradley on. Bradley, for his part, watches his wet cock as it pumps in and out of that space and spreads Liam’s cheeks apart again, the skin flushed pink from where stubble rubbed it wrong, to trace the edge of his hole with a thumbnail, making the muscle jump. He wants to fuck Liam, wants to be inside of him, come inside of him, though that’s something they’ve not done before and Bradley’s not sure if Liam would want to.

He imagines it, though; imagines opening Liam up with his fingers, maybe use his tongue again to get him worked up, and then hold him down while he pushes his cock inside. He’d be tight and it would be uncomfortable at first, but he’d love it. He’d make those sounds again, biting the pillow and asking Bradley to do it harder, faster, until he spills himself inside. Or maybe he’d go to that place again where he’s more quiet and pliant, and trust Bradley to make it good for him.

He’s quite suddenly wrenched back into the present, into the reality of Liam’s thighs tightening around his cock and the smell of their sex, and he pitches forward, barely catching himself with his arms either side of Liam. His forehead is hot and sweaty against Liam’s shoulder, and his thrusts begin to stutter, orgasm starting to build as a tingle at the base of his spine.

“Shit,” he gasps, pressing haphazard kisses to Liam’s neck. “I’m gonna come.”

Liam growls, “Go on,” and that’s it for Bradley; he jerks back, cock slipping free before he catches it in his palm and two, three tugs later he’s shooting over the backs of Liam’s thighs, getting a quiet hum and “that’s it, lad” in response.

He rolls onto his back, cool sheets immediately sticking to his overheated skin, and Liam watches him through half-closed eyes, making no move to re-establish contact or get up or do much of anything, really.

“You’re very welcome to, if you’d like,” he says sleepily after a minute or two, and Bradley turns his head to look at him, still a bit dazed. “Fuck me, I mean.”

Bradley moans, a little jolt of want going through him, and he says, “Yeah?”

“Yeah,” Liam echoes, and then hides a yawn in the pillow.

Bradley has to smile, knowing full well that all Liam really wants right now is to turn off the light and go to sleep, and he reaches out to touch the sticky mess between his thighs when he says, “Hate to break it to you, man, but you’re covered in come.” Liam mumbles something that sounds like no shit, and Bradley snorts, leaning in to kiss his shoulder. “Come on.”

“Mmm,” Liam stretches, eyes slitting open and studying Bradley. “I do need a shower, don’t I?”

Bradley nods, and nips at his ear. “I’ll even wash your back for you.”

Liam’s grin is sudden and full of mischief, and he’s up and shouting, “Last one in has to sleep in the wet spot!” before Bradley’s brain has even had time to register the unexpected change of mood.

“Motherfucker,” he groans, hearing Liam laugh as he switches on the shower, and follows him slowly. He’s starting to suspect Liam does this on purpose, because he always loses and he never sleeps in the wet spot anyway, using it as an excuse to drape himself across the other man instead.

***

“Jesus fucking Christ, Joe,” Liam’s saying, breath fogging as he rubs his hands together in a futile attempt to get warm. “We get it, Germany’s cold. You didn’t have to go all out and make us freeze our balls off.”

He’s smiling when he says it, and it makes the rest of the cast and crew laugh even as they shiver.

“Not you too, Liam,” Joe calls from where he’s consulting with the camera guys. “Cooper complains enough for five, I can’t have you giving up and acting like a girl as well!”

Bradley laughs, because it’s kind of true, and watches Liam flex his fingers, thinking about having them do that when they’re inside of him, having them hold him down and hold him close, always firm but never rough, not unless he wants them to be. The past month has been good; exhausting and mostly lived on a handful of hours of sleep, but good. They’ve all gotten closer, gotten to really know each other, and Bradley likes to think he’s made friends here. Actual friends that he’ll still call and meet with after they’ve wrapped this up, and that’s something rare and wonderful and it makes the long, taxing days fly by.

“Fucking son of a bitch,” Joe groans. Bradley throws Liam a questioning look, who grimaces in response. “Guys, this could take a while. The cameras don’t like the cold either.”

Bradley sighs, and Liam just shrugs and ushers him along to find somewhere to settle in for the wait. There aren’t many people left on set, seeing as it’s fast approaching the middle of the night and they’ve shot all the scenes with Rampage and Sharlto already. There’s only a short moment between Hannibal and Face left to shoot, a few lines of dialogue, maybe a thirty second sequence all told that quite probably won’t make the final cut of the movie anyway, but Joe insists they get it done.

They find shelter in the little makeshift tent where there’s coffee and hot water and a semi-large selection of tea and a few wooden benches grouped around wobbly tables, and Bradley could swear it’s actually colder inside. They were only out here for three days and this is their last night, and either no one was expecting the weather to be this shitty or they just couldn’t be bothered to drag any creature comforts along for a few measly night shoots. Either way, he’s looking forward to being back where it’s warm and sunny, and he makes a promise to himself that he won’t complain about the heat this time.

Liam pours himself some coffee, and Bradley knows he won’t drink it; he’ll just use it to defrost his hands.

“Why coffee?” he asks, voicing the question that’s been bothering him all weekend as Liam sits down next to him.

“Hm?” Liam’s face crumples a little in confusion, and Bradley leans in for a quick kiss just because they’re alone and he can.

“Why not get hot water if you’re not going to drink it anyway?” he clarifies, and bumps their legs together under the table.

Liam shrugs, rolls the styrofoam cup between his palms, and says, “I like the smell, even if it tastes bloody awful.”

Bradley hums, and waits for Liam to ditch the cup and take his hands, one after the other, in is own, almost uncomfortably warm ones and then repeat the process until the coffee’s cold. It’s something they’ve been doing every night out here, during those long stretches of time where, like now, there’s nothing to do except wait, and Bradley thinks he’s actually going to miss that aspect of freezing his ass off.

Liam rubs Bradley’s hand, bows his head to kiss icy fingertips, and then lays it back on the tabletop. “How come you’re not complaining about how cold it is every two seconds?” he asks, and cradles the cup again.

Bradley makes a show of looking around, though there’s no one else in here with them, and Liam looks a little bemused. “Can you keep a secret?” he asks in a stage whisper, and Liam makes a valiant effort to look serious as he nods. Bradley unzips his jacket, revealing a hot water bottle.

Liam laughs, and the sound makes Bradley grin. “Really, Brad? A hot water bottle?”

“One of the girls from makeup always had one and I talked her into bringing one for me, too,” Bradley explains, and Liam kisses the top of his head, still chuckling.

“You’re going to give Face a run for his money at this rate,” he says, and Bradley snuggles into his side under the pretence of sharing body heat.

“Meh,” he says and presses his cold nose against Liam’s neck, getting a shiver and a half-hearted grumble in response. “You never said, you know,” he says after a few moments, and Liam’s back to warming his hands.

“Said what?” he asks, thumbs rubbing Bradley’s palms and making him sigh his appreciation.

“Whether you think Hannibal and Face are doing the nasty,” Bradley says, trying for joking but not succeeding if the way Liam goes still and quiet is anything to go by.

“This just keeps on bothering you, doesn’t it,” he says, not really asking because he already knows.

Bradley shrugs, jostling Liam a little, and watches his hand be held in bigger palms.

“Would it change anything, if they were?” Liam asks, voice low and soft and genuinely curious, no judgement in it.

“I don’t know, would it?”

Liam huffs out a laugh against the top of Bradley’s head, and says, “I don’t know. Would you play Face differently if he was gay?”

Bradley thinks about it for a moment, tracing the lines on Liam’s palms and listening to the other man breathe. “No,” he says eventually, and realises it for the first time. “No, I wouldn’t play him differently.”

“Well,” Liam says, disentangling himself from Bradley and quickly kissing him before the tent flap opens and they’re told everything’s good to go for their scene now. “There you have your answer, then."