Title: If You Can't Stand the Heat (Ask Out the Baker)
Character/s: Gwaine, Leon
Summary: Gwaine goes into Leon's bakery hoping for more than a treat.
Warnings: Modern AU
Word Count: 947
Prompt: #215: Handle With Care
Author's Notes: This is a bakery AU in which Leon owns a small bakery and Gwaine is a delivery driver contracted to deliver his baked goods.
Gwaine bit down hard on his lip, trying not to laugh as he walked into Leon’s kitchen.
There was a red sticker stuck to Leon’s shoulder, high up on his back, around the ridge of his shoulder blade. Gwaine recognized the sticker; it was the same red sticker Leon put on all the deliveries, white block letters stating ‘Handle With Care.’ It was the same instruction Leon gave Gwaine every time he walked out of Leon’s bakery with a box of pies, an artfully decorated cake, or a few dozen cupcakes.
Gwaine had no idea how one of those stickers came to be stuck to Leon’s shoulder but he thanked the universe for letting him see it.
He hovered next to the swinging door separating the kitchen from the bakery storefront. The heat of the ovens engulfed him the moment he stepped inside but he knew better than to open the door to let some of it out. Leon had a very specific way of doing things and Gwaine had heard the ‘don’t disrupt my kitchen’ lecture enough times to almost have it memorized. He tried to ignore the heat pouring off the two industrial-sized ovens as he walked up to Leon’s workbench, grinning at the sticker on his shoulder.
Leon didn’t spare Gwaine a glance until he was finished rolling out the dough in front of him.
“Can I help you?” Leon asked, not letting Gwaine distract him from his task. “Don’t you have deliveries to make?”
“I’ve got some downtime. My next pick up isn’t until two,” Gwaine explained. He leaned one arm on the workbench; far enough to not be anywhere near the dough but close enough that Leon stopped cutting squares to raise a brow at him. “I was wondering if you still had any apple twists left?”
Leon looked down at his dough. “Merlin could tell you that.”
“He said to ask you.”
Leon went tense for a moment and sighed almost inaudibly before continuing to cut and arrange squares of dough on a nearby sheet pan.
“In the small oven,” he said, gesturing over his shoulder.
Gwaine went to peek in the small, commercial-sized oven, lingering heat hitting his face as he lowered the door. There were two apple twists sitting on a sheet pan, golden, flakey, and still warm. Gwaine decided to forgo any sort of eating accessory and pulled one of the twists out with his bare hand.
“Thanks for saving them for me,” he said, returning to Leon’s side before taking a bite. He winked, noting the blush coloring Leon’s cheeks when he added, “These are the fucking best. They’re like apple-cinnamony-sex for my mouth.”
Gwaine watched Leon work while he ate, the blush on his cheeks darkening from a hint to a flush of color. Gwaine knew it wasn’t from the heat – Leon was practically immune to the higher temperature of his kitchen – and he wondered, not for the first time, if it was safe to assume he was the cause of Leon’s charming blush. He wanted to be the cause, he wanted to think that Leon enjoyed his visits to the bakery as much as he did, but Leon was so quietly determined not to flirt with him that it made him desperate for other signs. Like the blush or the way Leon saved his favorite pastries long after the breakfast rush.
Or the looks Leon’s friends gave Gwaine when they thought he wasn’t looking.
He saw Merlin’s the most simply because Merlin worked the front of the bakery and was always around whenever Gwaine stopped by. He was subtle, just a glance in Gwaine’s direction whenever he flirted with Leon, but Gwen was better, her looks almost unnoticeable unless Gwaine caught her off guard. Elyan was the worst; he seemed uninterested in subtlety and just stared at Gwaine whenever he popped in without a delivery as an excuse.
Their eyes all said the same thing, just like the sticker stuck errantly to Leon’s shoulder: handle with care.
Gwaine tried not to take it personally that Leon’s closest friends seemed worried he might not heed the word of the sticker.
He dusted crumbs from the apple twist off his hands and beard, deciding that the best way to prove he cared more than his flirting let on was through action. He ran a hand through his hair, sweat starting to bead along his brow, and waited for Leon to finish the last of his morning pastry prep.
Leon wiped the back of his hand across his forehead, leaving flour in his wake. “Yes?”
“You want to get some coffee with me sometime?” Gwaine asked, smiling through the urge to kiss Leon’s red, not-at-all-from-the-heat cheeks. “Or a beer? Whichever you want. I know you wake up bloody early in the morning and I won’t keep you out… unless that’s what you want.”
It was possible that Leon’s face was giving off more heat than all three of his ovens.
“I…” Leon looked down at his hands, taking a deep breath before looking back up at Gwaine. “I’d like that,” he said quietly.
Gwaine grinned which in turn made Leon smile.
“Me too. Coffee, tomorrow? I know you close up at two but I won’t be done in time. Is four okay?”
“Four is fine.”
Gwaine leaned forward, enjoying the way Leon’s eyes widened in surprise at their sudden closeness, and slipped his hand around Leon’s back. He grabbed the sticker, knowing Leon would want to know about it, and stuck it to Leon’s apron. He grinned when Leon’s cheeks blushed again, promising himself that next time he wouldn’t have to show restraint.
“It’s a date.”