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03 February 2009 @ 12:30 am
The Fifth Elephant in the Room, Merlin RPS, Colin/Bradley, PG-13  
Title: The Fifth Elephant in the Room
Author: valderys
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: Colin/Bradley, but also some Katie/Bradley, Angel/Bradley, Hollliday/Bradley
Word Count: 2,701
Notes: This fic was born after I watched Dis/connected for the first time, and the idea of Bradley as a man-slut was irrisistible :) OTOH the fic got away from me somewhat, as these things do, so it’s not just that anymore. Sorry for any Holliday bashing, I’m sure she’s lovely really!
Summary: He’s Bradley James, he’s the Man – he can have anyone he wants. Can’t he?

It’s not Bradley’s fault. He’s very certain about that. After all, he’s the first to admit that he’s got his flaws - for example, he sings in the bath. He likes ketchup on nearly everything. He plays pranks that someone else would probably have left behind in junior school. But that’s not the point. In this particular instance, he can’t help it.

Is it his problem that he’s irresistible? Or is it just something a chap has to live with?

He’s not sure that people realise what a burden it is. Really. Katie looks down her nose if he tries to intimate any such thing, and Angel snorts into her breakfast cereal. Which is not very ladylike, he’d like to point out. Of course, Colin doesn’t notice. He’s got a book out again, and Bradley tries talking more loudly and slops his milk about. It doesn’t seem to help.

Then Katie tucks two fingers into his shirt, between the buttons, and she pulls him to his feet. It’s no good, if he resists she’s bound to tear the thing and dammit, he’s fond of this shirt. It makes his eyes look particularly blue. Not that he’s noticed. Really. But other people have – and who is he to argue? He cut a swathe through drama school with his smile and his confidence. And this shirt.

Katie raises a casual eyebrow, as he protests, but he may as well be sleeping with a drill sergeant, for all the consideration he gets. Or at least, he imagines it’s like this. Bradley has never slept with a drill sergeant, although he’ll give it a go, if it’s on offer. But he’ll give anything a go. That’s him, Bradley James, willing to try anything once. And why not? Life’s too short to be dozing with your nose in a book. Isn’t it, Colin? Colin! Look, Colin, see, this is me kissing my girlfriend Katie – she’s hot, isn’t she? And she plays my almost-sister, and that’s a little bit wrong, but it makes it somehow better too. Although to be fair, it’s her that’s kissing me, and I have milk splashed on my jeans, so it’s a bit damp and clammy. Bet it looks hot though. Colin? Colin? Does it look hot?

Katie releases him, lets him lean back. And Bradley smiles, cocksure, happy; he’s a fantastic actor who has to film in France for a living, oh woe is him, what a hardship. He leans hipshot on the lovely Formica table Craft Services brought with them from blessed Blighty, and bloody grins and grins.

Later, as Angel crunches the last piece of toast, and Bradley stops leaning because he’s getting a crick in his back, and Katie has flounced off somewhere, Bradley asks Colin, “What’re you reading then?”

Colin looks up, his expression dreamy, miles away, sweetness simply oozing from every pore. It beggars belief. Really. Bradley’s going to bash it out of him, if he doesn’t watch it .

Mort,” says Colin.

As though it means anything to Bradley.


When Katie dumps him, Angel’s there to break his fall. She’s all big eyes, and there, there’s. She has sympathy for him, because she thinks Bradley is upset and pining. Really. For Katie!

It doesn’t stop Bradley taking advantage though.

Angel is rounder and softer than Katie, who was all sharp angles and cut glass. Bradley had wondered if he was going to cut himself on Katie. She dragged him about, she ordered him around, and she liked to be on top in bed. Not that it was a problem. Bradley remembers the little Asian chick, what was her name, in college, who liked to have him hold her mouth shut and rub her nipples with ice. In public. Willing to try anything once, remember? Sometimes more often. They inevitably got caught, but talked themselves out of trouble by claiming it was a drama project, they were method actors, they were very sorry, they’d never do it again. Bradley wasn’t even lying. He’s never going to be a method actor.

Angel is exceptionally kind, and really very patient. Bradley would marvel at it, if he wasn’t so busy being bored. He knows he’s not right for her, but it’s so easy. He only has to bat his eyelashes and she’ll get him a coffee. Or a newspaper (in French, but what can you do?), or even a whole meal, with dessert. Bradley nudges Colin, to check he’s seen that Angel is all wrapped round any digit you care to name. Absently, Colin looks up (from his book! Again!) and he’s nibbling on the side of his finger, although really. That’s beyond rude. The sucking of fingers going on not two feet away, that’s just. Bradley doesn’t even have the words. He swallows and wonders why it’s difficult to breath, why it’s hot in here suddenly. The sun on the tent must have magnified the heat. Obviously. The wind must have dropped. That’s all.

The tent’s loosened entrance cords flap in the breeze.

Colin removes his finger from his mouth and calls after Angel. Can she get him a coffee too? She looks back, nods, and smiles, and Colin thanks her with an idiotically smarmy smile. Honestly, you wouldn’t get Bradley being such a suck-up. Suck. Fingers. Oh god.

Colin is looking a little perplexed, so Bradley must be staring at him, or something. That’s not right. It’s Bradley who always has something to say, always has the answers, he’s the Man, dammit. Bradley opens his mouth like a fish, but nothing comes out. God, what the fuck is wrong with him?

Colin is smiling and waving the latest ghastly book around.

“It’s Interesting Times,” says Colin, “Sorry, I should have said.”

And pops his finger back into his mouth, before bending his head to the pages again. Bradley is left staring at the bared nape of his neck, so pale and vulnerable. He’s Bradley James, and he’ll try anything once. Remember the girl with the maracas? The one with the nipple clamps? The Hairbrush Incident? Stupid treacherous thoughts.

His heart is pounding in his chest.


Angel sees through Bradley’s wounded act rather quicker than he thought she would, and dumps him too. Which is a shame. Bradley blames Katie because the two of them are as thick as thieves, always giggling together like girls do. God. Talk about art imitating life.

But it doesn’t matter, really, it doesn’t. There’s tons of crew, that he hasn’t even started on yet. He’s Bradley James, he can have his pick. Well, within reason, and it’s true that many of his various, umm, conquests, have made most of the running themselves. Although you couldn’t pay him enough to admit that.

It doesn’t matter anyway. Bradley has just started smiling the patent Bradley smile at one of the make-up girls, Clarisse, when Holliday arrives to film her episode. Who’s an ex, it’s true, and while a second bite of the cherry is never as sweet as the first, beggars, as it were, can’t be choosers.

Because it’s undeniable that Clarisse has been looking increasingly nervous, which doesn’t make any sense, given that here he is, all available, and for the taking. Or at least, it doesn’t make any sense until you factor in certain things that a chap might not, at first glance, have thought of. For example, Bradley has a horrible suspicion that she doesn’t speak any English. It doesn’t count as crashing and burning, does it, if there’s a language barrier? No. Good.

Not that Holliday seems to care. She’s here for two weeks, and there’s nothing wrong with a fling, apparently. Bradley’s not going to argue. As far as he remembers, she’s a controlling bitch with the face of an angel, but that probably doesn’t matter for two weeks. It didn’t much matter on the set of Dis/connected either, since Holliday’s part mostly involved three days of crying and not much else. It meant she had a lot of spare time, and loads of energy. Bradley thinks he still has the scars.

Bradley’s hanging around Colin when she strolls up. Of course he is, when isn’t he hanging around Colin these days, since Katie and Angel have dumped him? Therefore it’s perfectly understandable, and he’s not really digging his nails into the carved wooden back of Colin’s chair. He’s not staring down at Colin’s bent head in desperation, hoping that Holliday won’t catch his eye, now is he? Of course, he isn’t. It’s not that he’s looked at Wikipedia, so now he knows Colin’s reading books by Terry Pratchett, who, to be fair, even Bradley’s heard of.

It’s not even as though he takes a sharp (not-at-all girly) breath when Holliday gets her claws into his arm and holds on, looking winsomely up into his face. Just before she sucks his blood probably. Or his manhood out of his dick, which should be more fun than it sounds. He hopes.

But there are miracles, apparently. Some kind of deity. Colin looks up from his book, and the world rejoices. He’s a skinny streak of nothing, but he’ll save Bradley from a fate worse than death. Won’t he?

“This is Holliday,” says Bradley, weakly, hoping Colin gets the whole ‘help me, help me, the natives are revolting’ from his marvellous acting abilities. He’s the Man, he’s Bradley James… He’s fucked, is what he is.

And then there’s a slim hand fisted in his t-shirt, and he’s being pulled down, and Colin. Colin is kissing him. It’s not tentative, or messy, or sloppy, it’s not so hard their teeth clack, and they don’t bump noses. It’s like Colin has kissed Bradley every day of his life, like they fit together, and as Bradley opens his mouth to ask, what, what the hell, Colin slips inside. He tastes bitter like coffee and sweet like strawberries, and Bradley doesn’t, he doesn’t moan. But he may move his hand to Colin’s neck and he may hang on. He definitely does that.

When they part the world has changed, and Bradley’s breathing hard. He wants to cling - to get his breath back, to let his feet take his weight again, of course. No other reason. What other reason could there be?

“Hi Holliday,” says Colin, brightly, “Nice to meet you.” His eyes are positively sparkling. Butter wouldn’t melt in that mouth, slightly shining from… Holliday is open-mouthed but it’s not as good a look on her. Oh, what a shame. There’s only one thing to do in this situation, so Bradley does it. He squares up to her, man-to-man, or at least man-to-harpy, and then he smirks.

Without taking his eyes from Holliday’s, who is starting to recover from the shock, Bradley asks, “So what’s the book this week?”

He doesn’t even have see the matching smirk to knows it’s there, when Colin replies, “Witches Abroad.”


And that should be that. Enemies routed, game at an end. There doesn’t need to be a ticker-tape parade, or fireworks, but a small tinny trumpet or two might be nice, or a little cascading light show like Bradley gets sometimes when he nicks Tony’s DS. Something tawdry, something crass, he doesn’t want meaningful, he’s a bloke, he’s a catch, he’s Bradley James. He doesn’t know what the bloody hell to do.

Pierrefonds isn’t big enough. He doesn’t trust Katie and Angel, and he normally hangs around with Colin, he always has, so now he doesn’t know where to go. Bradley wanders up into the towers, and down into the cellars, before he’s shouted at by funny little guys in uniforms and moustaches, and by Wardrobe too. Then there’s Clarisse, and Marie, and little Juliette from Craft Services, but even if he did speak French he’s just… not in the mood. And they keep giving him these fond, pitying glances that just make him want to hit something. Although the fond part is nice, so maybe he could try, he could give things a go… Oh, who is he kidding?

Katie and Angel stage an intervention that involves copious amounts of alcohol, and Bradley reeling back to the hotel at stupid o’clock in the morning, singing a song about a wizard’s staff that has a knob on the end. (He may have picked up Colin’s books. Just one. Or maybe two.) He doesn’t think it helps.

Then Colin finds him, instead, which is an unprecedented thing in Bradley’s experience, and it makes him flap his hands, and get ketchup on his sleeve, and Wardrobe are going to kill him, again. Colin just tosses a book down on the table, like a challenge, and then perches next to him on the rickety bench, with his knees folded up and his chin on top. He’s unnecessarily close. Bradley wants to clear his throat and move away. He wants to shift closer and just breathe, like he hasn’t for days. He’s Bradley James, and that apparently means he doesn’t ask for what he wants, it means he runs away. It means he’s up for anything going, but he doesn’t know how to get to the point. It means… Bradley James is an arse. Well, he’s glad that’s cleared up then.

Bradley swallows. His mouth is dry, and Colin is just sitting there, shoulder bumping Bradley’s occasionally, but he’s not doing anything. Not even reading. That’s a first, too. Bradley pushes his plate away - he’s not hungry anymore, but he can’t stop himself fidgeting. He picks up Colin’s book in an aimless sort of way, and flips through the pages, wanting Colin to say something, wanting to say something himself, but failing, as usual. Really, at this point, the ground could open up and swallow him, and that would be fine.

Then, “What are you reading?” asks Colin, suddenly, intensely, his voice low, and Bradley almost jumps, except, well, he’s not reading anything, and what is Colin on about anyway? He opens his mouth to say as much, before realising his hands have stopped fidgeting, and he’s staring at the bright cheerful cover of the book he’s holding, with the title on it. With a particular title on it. He looks at the book, and then glances sideways at Colin. Who is staring at him solemnly, his fringe hanging in his eyes, the skin around his mouth delicate and drawn. He seems tired, thinks Bradley with a pang. And then.

He’s looking at me, Bradley realises. He’s looking at me. At last.

Bradley takes a breath, because he’s a man not a mouse, really he is. He deliberately puts the book down, and then he swings around on the bench. They neither one of them can talk about this, apparently, but that’s all right. If it’s both of them, well, Bradley knows what to do. If it’s both of them, then, that makes all the difference. And there’s a funny tightness in his chest, that might just be joy, or laughter, or the sudden urge to bash Colin’s stupid oblivious, how-dare-he-make-me-suffer-like-this head in, but it makes him just as determined. He’s Bradley James, he’s the Man, he’s Captain fucking Awesome. He can do this.

He leans slowly forward, and this time Bradley can hear that it’s Colin who sucks in a quick sharp breath, and it makes him grin. It makes him grin like a mad thing and just keep going until their mouths meet, until they click together again, perfectly, just like before, except that this time Bradley gets to run his fingers up into Colin’s hair, mussing it, and feeling the round delicate bones of Colin’s skull. This time he can groan into the kiss and drag Colin closer, he can slide his other hand under Colin’s shirt and feel smooth skin, he can push Colin’s knees down and straddle his lap, all the while letting his lips explore, heady from the taste, from the slight drag of stubble, from the way Colin’s clutching at him just as hard.

Bradley may be an arse, but there are some things he doesn’t need to have explained. Or, at least, not more than twice.

On the table, abandoned, the pages of The Truth flutter in the wind.
Jo: Squeeanimeartistjo on February 3rd, 2009 02:11 am (UTC)
Oh Dear Lord, you have killed me with awesomeness. Terry Pratchett AND Merlin? It's like a double dose of Ecstasy.

I adore Bradley's little rambling monologues and his complete obliviousness while Colin's all clever sweetness and light.

Thank you so much!
Valderys: Merlin - swordyvalderys on February 3rd, 2009 09:35 am (UTC)
When I read that interview with Colin when he described the books he liked, I knew I wanted to write a fic with Discworld in somehow. Making them mean something in the plot - that came later... *manic grin*
mystical van of doom: [mer] (rps) eternalflirtingvoldything on February 3rd, 2009 02:58 am (UTC)
There are NO WORDS to explain how brilliant this was. Oh my word ♥
Valderys: Merlin - swordyvalderys on February 3rd, 2009 09:37 am (UTC)
I wish we had more of the boys - I can't wait for more video diaries and such! *glee*
Etharei Helkamirë: Bradley Jamesetharei on February 3rd, 2009 03:07 am (UTC)

I'm eternally tickled that Colin Morgan loves the PTerry, and reading a fic that includes the books is a real joy :D Lovely piece!
Valderys: Merlin - swordyvalderys on February 3rd, 2009 09:38 am (UTC)
And why shouldn't he? I think Colin's a bit geekier than Bradley, despite Bradley's love of Buffy :)
green_grrl: M_ArthurBitchgreen_grrl on February 3rd, 2009 03:18 am (UTC)
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This is fantabulously brilliant.

Bet it looks hot though. Colin? Colin? Does it look hot?

Oh, Bradley James! Hee!
Valderys: Merlin - swordyvalderys on February 3rd, 2009 04:57 pm (UTC)
Bradley's such a dork - and he thinks he's so cool. Aww. *pets him* :)
sad peachpippopippo on February 3rd, 2009 03:36 am (UTC)
Valderys: Merlin - swordyvalderys on February 3rd, 2009 04:57 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much!
Kerryblaze: Merlin Arthurkerryblaze on February 3rd, 2009 03:41 am (UTC)
Oh my. That was well done, my friend! Well done indeed!
Valderys: Merlin - swordyvalderys on February 3rd, 2009 04:58 pm (UTC)
Cheers, my darling! 'Tis a silly bit of froth but then so's Bradley :)
Aleathiel: Arthur smirk openskilesaleathiel on February 3rd, 2009 09:16 am (UTC)
That was great fun! Loved Colin's choice of books.
Valderys: Merlin - swordyvalderys on February 3rd, 2009 04:59 pm (UTC)
Someone had to do the Pratchett fic, and it happened to be me! I feel blessed... :)
Allocinfadagaski on February 3rd, 2009 10:19 am (UTC)
Eee! Slut!Bradley is win. *squishes him*
Valderys: Merlin - swordyvalderys on February 3rd, 2009 05:00 pm (UTC)
He isn't the messiah, he's a very naughty boy... :)
prochytesprochytes on February 3rd, 2009 12:13 pm (UTC)
Aww.. this was very sweet. I like the way the personalities of the characters they all play bleed into their behaviour in this fic (God. Talk about art imitating life.): Bradley being a perversely adorable Arthurian prat; Colin being geeky and retiring and Merlin-like; Katie being an aloof ice-queen; and Angel being nice but not a push-over.

And the deployment of Pratchett was masterly, especially the delayed reveal on The Truth (I was expecting Soul Music, but your one was better). Opening up with Mort did make me wonder, though: if Colin is gangly Mort who does all the clearing up, does that make Bradley Ysabell?
Valderys: Merlin - swordyvalderys on February 3rd, 2009 05:07 pm (UTC)
Well, RPS is often written with the actors like their characters because we don't have much canon to go on, but in the case of Merlin I am not ashamed of the trope. As far as we can tell the *actors* were cast very close to type :)

And I chose Mort because basically Bradley had just died in that scene, and because Mort the character is as oblivious as Colin apparently is, and because Colin has said in interview he really wants to play Mort if they ever adapt that particular book... Lots of reasons really.

(And yes, my Bradley is a huge screaming girl, so Ysabell is very appropriate :)
Keddi: cb on holidayluisadeza on February 3rd, 2009 12:32 pm (UTC)
Oh, Bradley! Such a slut. XD
This was brilliant!
Valderys: Merlin - swordyvalderys on February 3rd, 2009 05:08 pm (UTC)
Isn't he shameless? :) Thank you very much!
Robi (´ー`*): RP - Bradley [All About You]chibi_saru11 on February 3rd, 2009 02:02 pm (UTC)
Oh, Bradley, you moron ♥
Lovely <3 I really liked it. Plus: Bradley man-slut? OH-SO-HOT
Valderys: Merlin - swordyvalderys on February 3rd, 2009 05:16 pm (UTC)
Isn't it funny? I find Colin far hotter, and yet I write Bradley - I suppose it's writing *about* the object of affection that is the attraction... :)
the exuberant codpiece: multifandomkaizoku on February 3rd, 2009 02:29 pm (UTC)
Ahaha, this is excellently hilarious! I wanted to slap Bradley for dicking Angel around, but then I realized he's just an arse. So that's all right then. Colin will take care of that, I'm sure. Through the power of Pratchett or something. :-D
Valderys: Merlin - swordyvalderys on February 3rd, 2009 05:20 pm (UTC)
Well, there wasn't much Angel-abuse - she caught on pretty quickly and dumped his arse :) And Colin understands Bradley, whereas Bradley doesn't understand Colin at all - so Colin can always keep him guessing!
witheredsongwitheredsong on February 3rd, 2009 03:35 pm (UTC)
YES. Pratchett and Merlin. My life is complete.
Valderys: Merlin - swordyvalderys on February 3rd, 2009 10:18 pm (UTC)
*dusts hands* My work here is done :)
hime2emeh: Healed Arthur 1.13hime2emeh on February 3rd, 2009 03:59 pm (UTC)
Brilliant! ♥ ♥ ♥

p/s:rambling!bradley is so adorable. :D
Valderys: Merlin - swordyvalderys on February 3rd, 2009 10:19 pm (UTC)
Adorkable, I'll give you! :) Aww. *squishes teh boys*
Profiterole: Merlin - Merlin and Arthur_profiterole_ on February 3rd, 2009 08:14 pm (UTC)
Oh, Mort! That book was so good. Before reading the comments, I didn't know Colin Morgan read Pratchett for real, though I'm not surprised. :-)

That was a great fic! Yay for Colin pwning Holliday!
Valderys: Merlin - swordyvalderys on February 3rd, 2009 10:23 pm (UTC)
And serious stuff as well, I seem to remember. This is the quote: Favourite books? I’ve got loads. Right now I’m reading One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I like most of Terry Pratchett’s books, and I also like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and The Life of Pi.
(no subject) - _profiterole_ on February 4th, 2009 12:14 am (UTC) (Expand)