I'm never switching shifts with Sam again. Never, thought Fitz as another chill ran through him. Even his leather jacket was no match for this frigid nonsense.
November began with unusual snowfall and it refused to let up. Heavy and frequent, London was a mess of slush and ice the very first week. Now, Fitz knew he could be late and the regulars at 7 am could stuff it, but he actually wanted to avoid it. First time in his life a job actually meant making an effort.
And Fitz would rather stay in the Doctor's good graces when the man eventually caught him outside sneaking a cig. See, it wasn't all selfless.
So, he'd even started planning his schedule around his job. And to be honest, Fitz was more organized than he’d ever been in his life and had landed more gigs as a result. Working with the Doctor had its perks.
After last night's gig and the following smatter of applause, Fitz polished off his drink and headed out at a respectable hour. To get enough sleep. For work.
He groaned and leaned his head against the frosty bus window. Once his music took off the whole concept of this capitalist hell would be a thing of the past. Or at least in his favor, he wasn't sure which. He should probably listen more during Sam's rants.
The bus rounded the corner and he glanced up at the scrolling marquee for the time. Another half-hour till he gets there for opening and with all the ice maybe an hour. With the time in mind, Fitz closed his eyes and tried to concentrate on a new song as the bus jostled this way and that through the dark.
His toes were going to freeze right off. A new winter wardrobe was needed, at least some damn wool socks. Fitz pulled his jacket around him tighter as he stepped off the curb and began his careful walk to The Space, the bus tail lights tiny beams in the distance.
Fitz had been anticipating traffic and snowfall and just barely making it on time. After all that careful planning, he'd gotten a bus driver who was on a race to speed through her route. On these streets? With this ice? Absolutely mad.
So thanks to Miss Mad Max, he was early for his shift. Really early. Maybe by a whole hour.
He stomped his feet a few times for more circulation and adjusted his guitar on his back. The shop was closed though some of the chandelier light bulbs glowed from the back hallway. The rest of it was the street lamp, the gentle edge of dawn still too far away.
It might not have snowed, but it was still cold enough that Fitz couldn't stop shivering. After a few moments of mental back and forth, Fitz figured the Doc wouldn’t mind. Taking out his key, it was warm in his palm as he adjusted the strap of his guitar. God help him if he fumbled opening the door and woke the whole street up by breaking the glass or some other nonsense.
He’d just sit quietly and wait for a bit. Maybe go over some of the lyrics for the new song he’d written for the open mic night that was happening at the pub down the street. After his shift, he’d go hang around some bar and finish this because the line about ‘catching girls staring , waiting for all that loving’ was not working at all.
The bell above the door gave a half gasp of a chime before Fitz could reach up and clutch it. Of course, his guitar fell from his shoulder and smacked right in a chair and toppled it over. Fitz stood stock still. Bad enough if the neighbors called the cops at this hellish hour, but he also knew the Doctor lived upstairs. He figured he must be asleep, tucked in and cozy.
The stray thought about the Doctor and his bed floated through his mind. Maybe everything was covered in velvet. Even had a dressing gown in that same soft green. Maybe he didn’t wear anything at all to bed...Fitz let out a deep breath and closed the door. Righted the chair.
Stupid thought, he just didn’t want to wake him up is all. That’s it.
His fear was proven completely unnecessary because a moment later the kitchen door swung open and out came the Doctor with a large smile on his face. His usual velvet jacket was missing, and his shirt sleeves were rolled up to the elbow. And instead of a dressing gown as Fitz had momentarily imagined—-there was the frilliest apron that had frilled into existence cinched around the Doctor’s waist.
Fitz had been working at The Space for over two months now, and he still hadn’t known who baked the daily specialty items. He knew they received a delivery each morning from a bakery they partnered with across the city for some of the standard items like buttery croissants and apple tarts. They were good, but nothing could compete with the daily item. A few like the old-fashioned donuts had appeared one Friday and almost rivaled his love for the Lemon Jelly Baby cupcakes. Almost.
Fitz sort of assumed it was some mysterious coworker who came in late at night to work because it couldn’t have been the Doctor. Not that Fitz kept a close eye on him or anything, but the Doctor never had a bit of flour on him. No smudges of frosting along the sleeves of his velvet jacket. It wasn’t possible for the Doctor to single handedly bake all of it unless he never slept.
And apparently, the man didn’t.
No, the Doctor was just as energetic at 5 am as he was at closing. His hair was piled on top of his head in a bun though a few disobedient curls sprang out through the holes of his hair net. If Fitz was ever caught in a get up like that he’d have dropped dead or at least have the decency to blush. But not the Doctor.
“What are you doing here so early?” He bounded over to Fitz with a huge smile on his face, but before he got an answer he continued in the same breath. ”You have perfect timing! I’d love an extra pair of hands to help me with this new recipe. What do you think of a five layer cronut cake with chocolate buttercream for today?”
Even in the light of the few chandeliers, the Doctor was close enough now that Fitz could see a red mark on the other man’s forehead from the hair net. This wasn’t unusual really, the Doctor had issues with personal space and at first it bothered Fitz, but now he was used to it. Maybe a bit too used to it because as the Doctor’s blue eyes stared up at him, all Fitz wanted to do was reach out and pluck the hair net off his head. Run his fingers through the man’s hair and...and...
Fitz buried the thoughts with a blush. He gave a small cough and looked at the clock.
“A cronut cake? I think this must be a bit tight on you if you can somehow get a cake done.” Fitz gestured at the fishnet which only made the Doctor’s smile wider. The nutter. “The shop opens in—”
“Yes, yes in 64 minutes. I can keep track of time, thank you, Fitz.” The Doctor turned back and walked through the kitchen door as he spoke and Fitz simply followed. One of the workstations was full of flour and a random assortment of pantry items. “Not to worry, the regular menu items are ready and awaiting the masses. Now help me with the buttercream since that can be made ahead…” The Doctor trailed off and then glanced back up at Fitz expectantly. “You do know how to bake, don't you?”
Never had he wanted the world to open up and swallow him whole until that moment. His face burned. “Not unless it comes in a tube and says ready in 10 minutes, sorry no.”
“Well…we all have our strengths,” the Doctor gave a dramatic sigh then pointed at Fitz’s guitar resting beside the kitchen door, before he continued to drag items over for Fitz on the steel table. “Do you have a late gig tonight?”
“Er—an open mic tonight, but nothing late.”
“What? No.” he replied in surprise. A strange weight of guilt sat in the back of his throat. It was bad enough to have random thoughts about his boss. It was worse to openly admit that he also hadn’t been getting laid at all. “I mean, there is this fit redhead, but I don’t think that’ll happen tonight.” Or ever, he should have added.
Fitz’s heart felt like it would hammer out of his chest. Why would the Doctor ask him something like that unless…? And would Fitz say yes, just to see. I mean it didn’t make him less straight to go on one date—.
His thoughts slammed to a halt as the Doctor smiled up at him and handed him a piece of paper. Fitz glanced down at it and across the top was the Doctor’s messy scrawl: Buttercream Dream Frosting.
“Excellent, be back tomorrow at the same time and I’ll teach you the fundamentals.” The Doctor walked over to a drawer and threw a hair net in Fitz’s direction. “Now just scrub up and I’ll walk you through making the buttercream.”
As the kitchen mixer creamed the butter, Fitz added in the powdered sugar slowly, a puff of white occasionally bursting into the air in front of him. The Doctor was talking about some piece of music that had been giving him trouble recently and Fitz spent it half paying attention to their conversation because he’d noticed something. Something important. While the man was lean, he had muscle hidden beneath all those velvet jackets.
Fitz tried to concentrate and give better answers, but his eyes would gravitate to the way the Doctor’s forearms would flex as he kneaded the dough on the floured surface of the workstation was distracting. This was the most skin he’d seen from the Doctor and here he was ogling like some pubescent teen.
What the hell was wrong with him? He dragged his eyes back to the mixer and began to count the rotations. He was tired. And lonely. That’s it. That’s all. Just count the rotations.
“That looks good,” came a voice beside Fitz and he jumped. God, the man was like a cat. The Doctor was peering into the bowl and then reached across to shut off the mixer. “I’ll finish this up while the dough rises. Why don’t you start getting ready for the first round of customers?”
“Sure thing,” said Fitz with a nod and tried to give his best I-was-not-thinking-about-you-naked smile. As he headed toward the door, Fitz let out a breath he hadn’t realized he was holding and took his hair net off.
Flipping the on switch, he listened to the espresso machine come to life, a bit of steam filling the air. The morning sun filtered through the large, lattice windows bathing the room in soft golden light. Fitz wanted to capture the warmth. Wanted to keep it close and release it back out into a song. A melody full of dawn began to construct itself in his mind and his fingers itched to try strumming it out.
“The sunrise was one of the reasons I kept this place. Beautiful, isn’t it?”
Fitz turned to see the Doctor bathed in that same golden light filtered through the frosted window panes. Smiling at him. Fitz bit the inside of his cheek and nodded. “Y-yeah, it is. I was just thinking I want to write a song about it.”
A sad look seemed to pass over the Doctor, but just as quickly vanished with a small hum of agreement before he spoke again. “Well, I hope to hear a Kreiner original someday. Please tell me when you’ve finished it.”
“Yeah, I’ll let you know.” Fitz said softly. His heart was skipping rope in his chest. Even his mind was getting off the straight path, already coming up with lyrics about how bright the Doctor’s eyes were as he stared back at him. The way the light struck the strands of his long brown curls and made them glow. It hurt to admit it, but the Doctor was beautiful. A weird, eccentric, maddening, and...beautiful man.
“Oh, by the way?” said the Doctor, stepping closer to Fitz. “You have a bit of sugar on your face.”
Fitz tried to wipe it away while the Doctor chuckled. “No, no, no. You haven’t got it. Allow me.”
And that was when the Doctor’s cool fingers brushed against his cheek, an electric shock ran through him. Something he’d never felt before in his life and now Fitz did and truly wanted the world to swallow him whole. Take him into darkness and end it. Because as ridiculous and over exaggerated as it was, he knew that he would be unable to continue on knowing those fingers may never touch him again.
This was an enlightened world, a good world. Just this past week, Sam walked in with her girlfriend to show her around the place. Fitz could be gay and no one would bat an eye. Though he was sure he wasn’t and made a point to check out every woman who walked by the windows. No. But he was somewhere on the Kinsey scale (which he finally knew about also thanks to Sam). So as much as he wanted to deny it, the scale tipped far and hard in the direction of wherever it meant he wanted the Doctor.
And yet, knowing all that, Fitz couldn't stop thinking of what his father would say. Dear old dad was 6 feet under, but he knew him well enough. He’d probably say something heinous, venomous and hurtful. It pricked at him. As he poured a refill for one of the regulars at the counter, his thoughts revolved round and round like the kitchen mixer attachment from that morning.
“Not smelling like the usual fire hazard. I’m shocked, what’s got you so distracted from your hourly cancer stick?” Sam asked and Fitz blinked down at her. She was tying her apron on, her blonde hair catching the afternoon light. He glanced at the time.
Everything had passed in a haze of making orders and handing out coffees and the mounting panic of his thoughts. Sheer panic.
“Nothing just….” Fitz let his words trail off with a shrug. He couldn’t come up with a reasonable answer before the real one strode out from the back hallway.
The Doctor’s velvet coat tails flew behind him as he approached to greet Sam. His blue eyes flickered to Fitz and he smiled bright.
And right then, Fitz was determined to get a few drinks after playing at the Open Mic, roll a joint, smoke a pack so he could stop feeling whatever this was. Maybe even text that bird who slipped her number to him last week. Maybe getting it out of his system would help.
Yeah. That was it.