Tuesday, February 17th, 2009 02:33 am
Title: DVD Extras: Most Proud Of
Author: [insanejournal.com profile] lilithilien
Fandom/Characters: Merlin, Bradley/Colin
Word Count/Rating: ~2000 words/PG
Summary: Bradley rushing to check on Colin + awkward comment about stunt = overprotective!Bradley fic
Disclaimer: This is utter fabrication, every word of it, except for the dialogue that came directly from this interview (starting ~2:12). And the fact that Bradley did rush over to see if Colin was okay. Because you can't make this stuff up!!
A/N: Those DVD extras are proving very inspiring. This is for the lovely [insanejournal.com profile] aelora who didn't think I was silly for obsessing. I had more betas on this than a 2K bit of RPS deserves. Thanks to my dear [insanejournal.com profile] sarcasticchick who read until she fell asleep (hopefully not because of the story) and to the lifesaving lovelies [insanejournal.com profile] shellydkitty and [insanejournal.com profile] aldiara, who both agreed to help me at the spur of the moment so I could post tonight, because I'm impatient like that.


It's been hours, but the fists that have clenched his gut since early morning are only now starting to ease. It's not that Bradley's never been frightened before. Sometimes in the soles of his feet he can still feel his tyres slipping on the early morning ice; sometimes when he touches the scar that stripes his thigh he can hear the screech of metal on tarmac with only his leg in between. Yeah, he knows what it feels like to be frightened, to watch his life flash before his eyes, to see a lorry crash through the motorcycle he was riding just seconds before. But Bradley doesn't remember it ever being this unnerving.

They'd started that morning with some dry runs just to give Colin an idea of what the stunt would feel like. Bradley stretched on the bed to watch as Colin ascended slowly, looking like a wingless angel flying in reverse. When they were satisfied that the wires were all sound, when Colin assured Jeremy with that uncontainable grin that yes, I'm ready for more, then they'd done it with a bit more force. Bradley hadn't thought anything of it at that point—these were trained stunt coordinators, Colin was well prepped, they'd never let anything happen to their star—but he had thumped his knuckles against the wall just to test it. Solid medieval stone, perfect for holding back raiders and cracking fragile heads.

And then they did the first take.

It took less than a second for the wires to carry Colin from the ground to the wall. Nothing like an ascending angel this time; this time he hurtled like a cannonball through the air, as if his body was being used to lay siege to the castle keep. Less than a second, but when Colin crumpled to a heap at the base of the wall, Bradley could have sworn he'd seen his life flash again.

And yes, he had been the first one at Colin's side as he tried to stand, wobbly as a newborn colt on untested legs. And yes, he might have lost it, just a little bit, when Holliday slagged him for it. And maybe he shouldn't have gotten angry enough that her eyes widened with sudden understanding as she looked from him to Colin and back again. But the soles of his feet itched and that stone was as hard as tarmac and there'd been eight more takes—eight more times that Colin's body had been carelessly thrown through the air while Bradley stood there motionless, enchanted and uncaring. It'd been the finest acting job of his career to date and no one would ever even know.

As soon as they finished they'd been split up for different scenes. Colin only made a goofy face at him before they parted, when Bradley was sure he definitely didn't sound like a mother hen for suggesting he stop by first aid.

It's been hours, and only when Bradley sees Colin wind his way slowly through the crowd of extras do the fists clenching his gut finally start to relax. Colin moves stiffly, there's none of his normal carefree loping, but he's wearing that same ridiculous grin that he'd plastered on between every take—the one that screamed yes, as a matter of fact, I do enjoy getting pelted repeatedly into a wall. Bradley's stomach unclenches when he sees Colin, but his fingers itch to pull him aside and peel back his clothes, just to make sure that he's really undamaged.

He's so intent on Colin that he doesn't notice Annette, their PA, is walking beside him, not until she's right on top of them.

"They want us for an interview." Colin sounds almost apologetic as he jerks his head in the direction of the trailers.

"Now?"

"Yes, now, Bradley," snips Annette. "If you'd bothered to read your dailies you might know that." And yes, now she mentions it, he does remember some mention of that, but he'd pushed it to the back of his head long before Colin first dangled in the air. "They've done Colin and now they want the both of you."

It's a ridiculous interview, of course, and the questions are utterly mundane. How is filming at Pierrefonds? What's it like working with big names like Tony? Is he optimistic about the series' future? It's the kind of interview he could do in his sleep, so Bradley stands there with his fake yes, I'm an actor smile and blathers on about how much he's learned from Anthony and wonders how much longer it'll be before he can pull Colin into his trailer for a thorough inspection.

But then the reporter asks what they're both most proud of, and Colin has the nerve to say it's getting to do his own stunt. As he cheerfully talks about putting on a wire and getting shot six feet into the air, Bradley can almost hear the smack his body made when it slammed. He gives up on his fake actor's smile. It's futile; it's all he can do to contain his anger within his clenched jaw. Of course the stunt was perfectly safe, he knows that, and Colin really did think it was great fun getting smacked up against the wall, and dammit, Bradley is proud of him for being a trooper and doing it. But none of that diminishes the panic he felt every single time Colin's body, looking so brittle and small, crashed into solid rock.

Unable to say any of that, Bradley copes the only way he can. "You've given it away," he complains in what he hopes comes across as a mature concerned about the series tone rather than a petulant but you could've gotten hurt one.

Colin stares at him for a second, seeming to stumble, then shrugs with an awkward laugh. "It's what I do."

It makes Bradley feel like a complete tool. Colin hates being interviewed, and for a few minutes there he'd been animated and engaged—before Bradley had to go and ruin it. "Okay," he offers in apology, wishing he'd said nothing, "never mind."

"It's my moment, man. Don't take it away from me," Colin deadpans.

It's a recovery so brilliantly wry that Bradley wants to hug him, right there with the cameras on them and the reporter sniggering at the exchange. Bradley plays right into it. "Well, if you're going to give away the story before we…"

Colin flashes one of his patented disarming looks, one that says you're not fooling me, I know just what you're playing at, even as he deflects. "What are you most proud of?"

Really? He's supposed to say something halfway intelligent now? There's lots he could say—I'm proud that I watched you practically kill yourself without stopping you, I'm proud that you make me raise my game every time we do a scene together, I'm proud that I haven't screwed this up between us yet, whatever this is—but he hasn't even said any of that to Colin yet. Proclaiming it to the world is perhaps premature. Bradley has no idea what he answers instead—something about being part of the Merlin team and giving his best to what they're creating or some such rubbish. He's given up escaping this without sounding an utter berk, and he can only hope that the director will edit out the most inane bits.

The reporter's just as unimpressed by the answer, apparently, and wraps it up as soon as Bradley stops talking. Annette hustles him off to interview Tony, taking a moment to shoot a stink-eye at them—at Bradley—as she leaves. "You're both wanted on the parapets. Now."

Colin takes one step but it's a step away from him, and Bradley's not having any more of that. Not today. His hand strikes like a cobra and catches a thin elbow, snapping Colin's wide-eyed attention back to him.

"Not yet. We need to do something first."

Colin's trailer is closest, so that's the one Bradley pushes him into. Not hard, mind—it's an infinitesimal fraction of how fiercely he's wanted to, after this unbearably long afternoon of wondering and waiting—but his hand on the narrow shoulder still makes Colin wince. Bradley's gut wrenches again, his insides scraped raw, each twist fuelling his imagination of how badly Colin's been injured. Outwardly, though, he merely glowers as Colin shifts awkwardly into the room.

"You're hurt."

Colin's eyes roll in an amused, exacerbated orbit. "I'm sore, that's all."

And Bradley wants that to be true more than anything, but his imagination has been running wild all afternoon. He felt how hard that stone was, he remembers how bones shudder and crack when they meet that kind of force, and it chokes his voice when he says, "Take off your shirt."

Blinking, Colin stares at him, obviously unsettled. "Your Arthur voice won't work on me, you know. I'm not your manservant."

No, he's not, Bradley knows that, but he can't trust his voice right now not to command Colin to do as he asks. He can barely trust his fingers to unhook Colin's thin belt, for his hands not to hurt him as they roll the thin linen up Colin's sides. He certainly can't trust himself to look away from the colourless skin that appears, his heart easing inch by bruiseless inch, while Colin stands frozen like a sculpture carved of ice.

"Did you not think I could do it?"

The question, feeling cold and every bit as exposed as bare skin, is as far from what Bradley's thinking as it's possible to be, and it drags his attention to Colin's eyes. Guarded, they scrutinise him, daring the truth out of him. The truth is that Bradley sees other images overlaid on them: that of his mother, face puffy red when he woke up, that of his father crying beside his hospital bed. Even then, he'd wondered whether it might be harder to watch someone hurt than it is to be hurt yourself. But he'd never known that for sure until today, when he felt the itch in the soles of his feet and the twist in his insides and that urge he had to swallow down, nine horrible times, to keep Colin safe.

But doubting Colin? That idea had never crossed his mind. "No, I always knew you could do it. But I didn't think I could."

The clock on the wall ticks through several seconds as Colin studies him, puzzling out his meaning. He must find something he believes there, finally, because at last he swallows and lifts his arms. Gently, so gently that the linen doesn't even drag against his skin, Bradley slips the tunic over his head. Colin should be all lily-white limbs and gooseflesh beneath, porcelain and flawless, but he's not. His shoulder blades are shaded red as if his blood flows too close to the surface, and down his left side curls a long, wide ribbon, rouge-coloured.

"They'll bruise," Bradley says, already picturing them turning to mottled puce.

"Aye, but they'll heal," Colin answers.

And Bradley just has to touch. He lets himself—Colin lets him—conduct a slow, thorough inspection, sweeping his fingers in the white spaces in between, memorising their outlines so the injuries won't swell again in his imagination, mouthing careful kisses against the undamaged shoulders as if he could wipe away the ache.

"Hey," says Colin softly, his hand reaching over his shoulder and burying itself in Bradley's hair, "we'd better be getting on."

"Yeah," Bradley agrees, wanting to hold onto this for a little while longer. With each touch, the fist that's been twisting his guts all day subsides a little more, replaced bit by bit by fingers that soothe. "Watching that," he says, and he can only say it because he can't see Colin right now, "it's one of the hardest things I've ever had to do."

It's been hours, and only now, as Colin turns and gives him that yes, you're an idiot but you're my idiot smile, does he not feel frightened anymore.


~~~ The End ~~~




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