Colin waited in the closet's doorframe, feeling awkward being inside with his puffy jacket on, but burrowing his hands deeper in the pockets as if that would make him less conspicuous. He stood quietly telling himself to get a grip. His practiced apology gone, slipping away as his thoughts headed into more familiar, unwanted territory.
Just because Bradley's backside wriggling a few feet away presented him with all kinds of outrageous in-the-person suggestions, didn't mean he had to think like the prepubescent boy he was accused of looking like on his clean-shaven Merlin days. The ick factor of that alone should have squished his mental meanderings. It didn't, just upped the obscene factor when he remembered the girls who had triggered his NC-17 rated madness. Comparing Bradley James to a Golden Delicious Apple, how harmless could three giggling pre-teens be?
To be honest, it wasn't as if Colin's thoughts had been at all pure to begin with. He really shouldn't blame them entirely. It wasn't as if he hadn't considered Bradley a bit of a golden boy… (okay golden god) sometimes. And so what if he frequently got hot and bothered by the exertions of the Knights of Camelot during fight scenes, he wasn't the only one. Except that he really hadn't thought about what kind of temptation Bradley was until he thought of him as… an apple?
The metaphor had rooted itself in his brain and the epiphany that followed, while excellent for a satisfying wank, had unfortunately grown in direct proportion with the amount of time he and Bradley spent together. Which was a lot. And Bradley was very hands-on, in your personal bubble all the time and such a tease that before Colin could nip the idea in the bud, suddenly, Bradley was forbidden fruit in need of being plucked, which rhymed with sucked, and…
Colin snapped to attention with Bradley's curse, eerily echoing the direction of his thoughts. "How'd you find me?"
"Followed the sounds of the guillotine being tested."
His weak attempt at humor worked when Bradley straightened, his hands going to his hips. "You going to apologize, then?"
"Just because it comes out of my mouth, doesn't mean I think it." That had made more sense and sounded more contrite in his head and Bradley's quirked lips confirmed it.
"And they call me daft," he muttered turning back to the mess in the closet and apparently taking Colin's words as an apology. "Katie's going to skewer you next time she sees you."
"Yeah, she's already cornered me once today."
"Yeah?" Bradley smiled and Colin felt his stomach lurch into his throat at the genuine delight in it. "Never heard a girl talk that way before. Her accent's nearly as bad as yours when she's irate."
"Happy to oblige."
Bradley gave him a cursory once-over that heated his cheeks. "Shocked me, really. Didn't know you had it in you."
"But it was my subconscious," Colin tried to explain. "I was barely awake!"
"I know!" The grin Bradley sported this time was evil incarnate, a warning that his mind was thinking up more devious ways to torture his castmates. He put a fallen box up on the shelf before turning around to face Colin again. "I'm sort of disappointed I hadn't tapped your hidden talents sooner. Imagine what we could do if you were fully awake."
Colin might have choked on his own spit or his brain short-circuited leaving him without even natural instincts, either way, he couldn't breathe. He did manage to get his hands out of his pockets and in front of him as he fell forwards, TARDIS-swooshing sounds filling his ears. Imaginations were very, very bad things, especially when you blacked out in the arms of someone you wanted to bonk.
"I told you that the rabbit food isn't enough." Bradley peered down at Colin with concern. He was sitting, cross-legged with Colin's head propped up on his thigh; a hand brushed through Colin's hair. "You okay?"
Words formed on the tip of Colin's tongue, but his voice box seemed to be broken. He shook his head and closed his eyes, trying to drown out the aching want rapidly flittering through his entire body. A few even-keeled breaths later and he found the courage to open them up again.
"Col--," Bradley stopped when he met Colin's gaze, his forehead crinkling in concentration, like when they practiced lines or discussed Buffy the Vampire Slayer themes or how similar they were to their Merlin and Arthur counterparts. "I know you're shy and all, and you like your privacy, but do you think you might let me know what's going on with you mate? You're acting weird, or weirder than usual and I'm not the only one who's noticed."
"But you can tell me, yeah," Bradley wheedled affectionately, his thumb rubbing circles on Colin's forehead. "Whatever it is, you need to tell someone and…," he hesitated again before continuing, "y'know you can trust me, yeah?"
No, no, no. Colin's brain unhelpfully supplied childish negatives while his grown up subconscious side that managed to be honest and get him in trouble with Katie more times than he can count now and labeled the dark horse, quietly supplied an earnest-looking Bradley with a meek but affirmative, "Uh, I do."
"So? Spill the details. C'mon," Bradley demanded. He pulled Colin up and out of his jacket and sat him on a stool. His hands gripped Colin's shoulders and he leaned into Colin to get a proper look at his face. Whatever he was looking for must have been there, because he stepped back, propped himself up against the doorframe, crossed his arms, and looked more like his smug, prattish Arthur persona than the caring friend from a moment ago. "What's bothering you?"
"You!" Colin hadn't meant to blurt it out that way, but seriously, Bradley was manhandling him and making demands and it had been nice to lay on the floor, his head on Bradley's thigh and he needed to be comforted, not commandeered like a knight-in-training.
"Me?" Bradley looked skeptical, but he inclined his head to let Colin know he was listening.
Colin ran shaky hands through his hair, tugging on it and letting his hands fall to his neck. He massaged there for a bit, before standing and pacing. All the while, Bradley waited, eyebrows cocked in question and as smug as usual.
"Argh, you're just standing there!" Colin bit out. He gestured wildly at Bradley and shook. His entire body shook and he kept wringing his hands and staring at Bradley like his accusation had validity.
"So I am," Bradley said hesitantly, his head tilting sideways as if the world had gone lopsided. And maybe it had Colin thought hatefully, because declaring himself mentally unhinged seemed preferable to the torment of declaring himself enamored with his gorgeous co-star. And Christ, he was coming out too as well. And if that wasn't fucking unbelievable, he actually thought he might have a chance to make it with this man!
"Fuck! Fuck! Fuck it!"
And even as Colin rounded on Bradley, as stoic as he was pretending to be, Colin saw the glitch in his features before he schooled them again, and that tiny foul-up gave him the courage to go on.
"Do you have any idea," he asked forcefully as he came into Bradley's orbit. "Any idea how many fucking mixed signals you give? I don't know if you like me, like me or just hang out because I'm the best damn sergeant in your Bradley Jokester Brigade. You invade my personal space in public, you hang off of me, you answer questions for me, you even fucking tell jokes that I get in my sleep… and we are a pair of weirdos that connect on some level that the cosmic universe must think mad, because you look like that and me, well I look like this."
Colin had more to say. He really did, but he had to breathe and so he stopped, but he placed both his hands over Bradley's moving lips and refused to hear what came out. His breathing, already ragged from his speech, hitched when Bradley's fingers hooked the belt loops of his trousers and his thumbs slid under his T-shirt, gently stroking the bare skin there and pulling him close. He leaned his forehead onto Bradley's and rested, letting Bradley's fingers skate across his sides and his back.
He did look up though when he felt Bradley's face split into a big grin. One that even both his hands could barely conceal. "Don't you dare," he hissed, knowing he wore his heart on his sleeve now. "You're going to hear me out."
Bradley nodded wordlessly and his eyes twinkled with agreement and affection if Colin read them right. "You didn't know, did you?"
Bradley shrugged, and Colin afraid to hear what he might say, kept his hands anchored over his mouth. "Fuck Bradley, do you know I spend most days and nights thinking about your hands all over me, or sucking you off and all kinds of other wicked ways to behave with you but the proper mate that you expect. And Jesus Christ, nevermind the details, but all because I realized you're a fucking Golden Delicious Apple!"
At that, Bradley did laugh and Colin let him. He tried to step away, but Bradley had him by the belt loops before he could get away. "Oh no, you don't. Come back here."
When twisting and turning didn't work, Colin gave up his half-hearted attempt to flee. "You stubborn idiot." Bradley laughingly mimicked Colin's Irish brogue as he spoke. "I like you, like you." He laughed his deep laugh when he said it and pulled Colin into a tight hug, whispering how much he liked all of Colin that he couldn't list everything, but that his cheekbones were definitely amazing and that he was intelligent and caring and gorgeous too and how could he not know how he was the best thing to ever happen to one fucking Golden Delicious Bradley.
Colin shoved him then. "Way to ruin the mood."
"Hmm… I don't know," Bradley teased as he shut the door and leaned against it, donning a superior smirk that only he could affect. "Bite me?"