The fine art of procrastination

or stuff I wrote when I should have been writing something else

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BBC Merlin rpf: The power of illusion; pg13

These boys are still interfering with my plans. I seem to have spent the last few days in Camelot (well, on set, anyway) but I have to get them out of my head before I can even think of getting back to the book. There's many a true word spoken in an lj journal title. :)

Title: The power of illusion
Rating: PG13
Word count: 2,001
Pairing: Colin/Bradley
Warnings: more angst
Spoilers: none
Disclaimer: I'd love them to be mine - the characters or the actors - but sadly neither is the case. And this is fiction.

Summary: Colin can't resist watching Bradley...but it doesn't have quite the effect he'd hoped for.


Colin’s never felt so certain that falling in love with Bradley James was a mistake.

They’ve not had the conversation, or made the move, and Colin has always imagined that, when the time came, he’d be the one to instigate either. He’s not sure why it hasn’t happened yet. Perhaps they’ve not felt brave enough to risk friendship for something more. Perhaps it’s just been about finding the right moment.

But two things Colin has been sure of – that it would happen and that they had plenty of time. Series One is a global hit and even though Two isn’t quite all in the can, and has yet to air, they all know it's bigger, better. Three has to be in the bag – though, of course, none of them dares voice that aloud. Acting and superstition go hand in hand – Scottish play, whistling backstage, and all that – so no-one's actually going to come out and say it, but they will be together again next year. Plenty of time for him and Bradley to let this play out nice and easy. Or so he’d thought.

Right now, Colin feels sick and he’s sure he should stop watching this. He should walk away and forget he ever saw it. Because it shouldn’t make any difference. It doesn’t mean anything. And if it’s getting to him he should just turn around and leave – except he can’t. He’s like some ghastly rubber-necker at the scene of an accident, riveted by the sight of Bradley kissing Angel.

He should be back in his room, sleeping – taking advantage of a rare, late call. But as soon as he’d seen it on today’s call sheet, he’d known he wouldn’t be able to resist. He’s been obsessed with the idea of observing Bradley’s technique at length – all the while imagining it's him being kissed, of course. The opportunity for a good ogle followed, no doubt, by an even better wank was too good to pass up. He’s given in to temptation and now it's sending him straight to hell.

Because Colin isn’t fantasising, can’t. Not when all he can see is how gently Bradley takes hold of Angel, his broad hand spread supportively in the small of her back; how reverently Bradley touches his lips to hers – soft touches of adoration and the whisper of sins to come; how those clear blue eyes light up with promises as Bradley gazes at Angel and cups her jaw with long, strong, elegant fingers. It’s all so bloody...natural.

Colin knows it isn’t love he’s witnessing but he knows something else, too. He knows he’s fucked. Or, rather, that he won’t Bradley James. Because despite all the shared moments he’s been storing up – the looks, the touches, the not-so-in-jest comments and, it seems to Colin, enough unearthed electricity to power bloody Pierrefonds for the next century and a half – despite at least a year of knowing that, whatever else Bradley is, he is so hot for Colin, today he’s sure of something else.

Today, Colin is sure that Bradley James is straight.

They call cut and print on the set up and Colin watches as Bradley releases Angel, his fingers trailing down the sleeve of her gown to her wrist before he smiles and lifts his head. Bradley’s eyes meet Colin’s and his smile widens – then falters when it isn’t returned. The expression that replaces it is full of concern. Bradley takes a step towards him.

Colin has no trouble imagining how the rest of this scene will play out. He can hear the affection in Bradley’s voice, feel the unconditional support in the arm sliding around his shoulders, see the love behind the worry in those too-beautiful eyes. It will be one of those moments he’s coveted, replayed in his head a hundred times.

He should be standing here, watching Bradley walking towards him and wondering, again, if this is it – if this is the time when it won’t end with the hug, when the boundaries of friendship will finally be crossed; when, feeling Bradley’s breath hot against his neck, he will find the courage to press his lips to Bradley’s jaw, feel the other man tense and relax in his arms and then – with that unspoken consent – to brush his mouth across Bradley’s cheek until, at last, their mouths meet...

But he can’t see it any more. And he knows that every touch, every tone of what will follow will be steeped in friendship; the most important friendship Colin has ever shared, one that he values beyond measure and wants to preserve at all costs, but that right now, right this moment, leaves him feeling foolish, cheated and very, very alone.

Bradley stretches out his hand but Colin turns and runs, knocking a lamp flying in his haste. He can hear his illusions shattering in the glass under his feet.


Colin doesn’t know how Bradley finds him – must have fucking radar fitted or something – but by the time he does the sun is going down and Colin is cold and tired, inside and out. His scenes are long since finished but the idea of being caged up in his room with his thoughts had driven him crazy.  Not that he’s been able to escape them even here, but the oak is solid against his back and the sound of the breeze rustling the branches overhead has been kind of soothing. Sometimes he worries that he’s turning into bloody Merlin.

What little peace of mind he has discovered is, however, immediately dispelled by Bradley’s appearance.

“Last bus back in 15 minutes  – they sent me to tell you.”

It figures. He should have known they'd watch where he went. Sometimes he resents the constant vigilance, but more often he accepts there's just too much invested in him for it to be any other way. At least they'd left him alone.

He doesn’t look up. “Thanks, I’ll be along.” He can hear Bradley’s feet scuffing around in the twigs and stuff...clearly not walking away. “Look, Bradley,” he can’t have this conversation, not yet, “I’m not in the mood to talk right now, okay?”


Bradley sounds relaxed about it and Colin is half way through a sigh of relief when Bradley sits down beside him. He does look at him then, somewhat incredulously.

Bradley shrugs, flashes a brief and not overly convincing smile, and says, “I’ll just keep you company.”

Colin closes his eyes and concentrates on what shows – keeping his breathing even, his hands clasped tight around his drawn up knees so that neither tremble. While he’s been alone, the silence has been comforting. Now it’s it’s full of Bradley. He feels the man beside him shift closer, until his weight presses against Colin’s shoulder.

“I spent the whole bloody day thinking about you, mate.”

Bradley’s voice is low, intimate, and Colin’s body betrays the way his thoughts want to run at the sound of it. He takes a deep breath.

“Yeah, as if, James,” Colin injects as much sarcasm as he can find. He can brazen this out; he will. “Considering you’ve spent the day making out with Angel, I’m pretty certain I’ve been the last thing on your mind.”

He feels Bradley’s eyes boring a hole in his temple, knows Bradley won’t give up until he looks at him. Bradley’s brow is arched, a lazy smile lifting the corner of his mouth. And Colin really, really doesn’t want to look at that mouth – especially today.  He lifts his gaze quickly. Bradley’s eyes dance with the same, unvoiced delight.

“Find it that much of a turn-on, did we, Colin?” Bradley wiggles his brows suggestively, waiting for the riposte.

Colin looks away, the pain in his chest gripping like a fist around his heart.

“C’mon, Col,” Bradley’s voice trickles into the silence, stripped of all its humour now, and laced with the caring that Colin has dreaded; that makes him feel stupid and ungrateful and so fucking angry he could scream. “Of course I was thinking about you. Why’d you run off like that? I’d have come after you straight away but they wouldn’t let me, and then I couldn’t find you at lunch. What’s wrong?”

Colin grits his teeth, grips his knees until his knuckles ache. “Nothing, nothing’s wrong.”

Bradley gives him the Arthur look. The one that says ‘you must be an idiot if you think I believe that, but I’m not going to question you any further’. Usually, it frustrates the hell out of Merlin and Colin – who are both, to one degree or another, desperate to be discovered. Provided Arthur and Bradley react the right way to the discovery, of course. Today, Colin is grateful for it. Grateful, and gutted, and totally on the verge of the sort of emotional behaviour Bradley despises if he doesn’t get out from under this tree pretty soon. Running away from Bradley twice in one day does, however, seem a bit excessive.

Bradley’s weight shifts against Colin’s side. “You realise, of course,” he tilts his head, mint-scented breath gusting against Colin’s cheek – the smell of a man who’s been performing a love scene all day, “that I’m showing remarkable patience here, Morgan.”

Colin chances a swift glance up at Bradley, “I know,” he croaks, hating the defeat he hears in his own voice, “I’m sorry.”

“So am I,” Bradley holds his gaze, “because when I saw you watching this morning, I thought you and I were finally on the same page.”

Colin swallows. “I...I don’t understand.”

“Yeah, yeah you do,” Bradley breathes. “But what I don’t understand is why you ran.”

Colin’s heart skips a beat and then thunders on. Perspiration creeps down the small of his back and his sudden dizziness makes him wish he’d eaten something, instead of spending the lunch hour avoiding Bradley – though he suspects that would only mean he’d be feeling like throwing up.

Bradley is waiting for Colin to speak, and he looks Jesus Christ! Colin drops his head into his hands. He doesn’t know. He just doesn’t know; can’t trust himself to tell the difference any more.


The graze of Bradley’s fingers across his hair sends a shiver running straight down Colin’s spine. His throat closes and something suspiciously like a groan comes out of his mouth. “I wanted to watch,” he almost chokes on the words, “but then looked so...with her.”

He wants to curl up and die, wants to take it back, to roll the whole fucking day back and just stay in bed, safe and alone and full of dreams. But Bradley is pulling him closer, unfurling his misery with the brute strength of his hands, pushing his legs down flat, straddling his thighs and hauling him into an embrace so tight that it drives all the breath from Colin’s body.

Bradley’s arms are like steel bands around his back, tightening and releasing, over and over, as Colin heaves for air. Only when his breathing steadies does Bradley turn his head, lips moist against Colin’s ear.

“I was acting, you dimwit.”

Colin wrestles an arm free and combs his fingers up through the hair at the nape of Bradley’s neck, cupping the base of his skull. Bradley’s breath is hot against his neck and Colin tips his head back, revelling in the sensation. He opens his eyes, staring up through the swaying canopy of leaves to the darkening sky beyond, feeling the world spin around them.

He looks down just as Bradley looks up and there is almost an inglorious collision but they adjust, and Colin smiles as he feels those long, strong, elegant fingers settle against his cheekbone.

“You’re too good at it, you moron.”

And then Colin does find the courage to press his lips to Bradley’s jaw, relishing the feeling of the other man tensing and relaxing in his arms and – with that unspoken consent – to brush his mouth across Bradley’s cheek until, at last, at frigging last, their mouths meet.

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How are there no comments around here?! *peers around* This was great, I like how you gave us Colin's POV and the feel of filming on the set of Merlin. The way you brought the boys together was just lovely.

"Cutting Room" was the first story I posted with links back to my journal - the others I posted direct to fic sites so the comments are there. :) But I thank you for wandering through the other fics here and taking the trouble to comment - and I'm delighted you enjoyed this one.

At first, I was a little worried I wasn't going to like where the story was heading--no, Colin, I don't want you to angst about Bradley being straight! But then Bradley was teasing and lovely and it was great. And I am rapidly becoming a huge fan of your writing and descriptions.

Also really liked the line about Colin and Merlin both waiting to be discovered.

Thank you so much - I'm delighted that you are enjoying my stories! Ah, yes - i love that duality about secrets... That on one level you want to keep then close, but on another (particularly if they are about your feelings for another person) there is that terrible but wonderful longing for your secret to be discovered. :)

if you have a sudden need to be inundated with comments, you could cross-post these fics to one of those bradley/colin comms. course then people will be harping on you to write more because they are all bloody brilliant.

guh. must stop reading and go to bed. don't think i won't be back to drool over the rest of your fic though. ♥

Hi, I *did* post them to BradleyColin and MerlinRPF, back when i first wrote them. Wasn't inundated, but I got a few nice comments, so not complaining! I didn't link them to my journal, though - so none of the comments are here. Anyway, I just love that you're enjoying reading through my fic. Thank you so much for the lovely compliments! :)

it makes no sense to me that you weren't buried in comments. maybe folk were scared off from reading by the beautiful angst that they thought wouldn't be resolved. definitely their loss.or maybe they were all weeping too much from emotional release. that's probably it [*nods*]

Ah, well - I love doing the angst but you can guarantee I will *always* resolve it. I'm an unashamed romantic and these boys so deserve a happy ending after all I put them through! :)

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