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ABSENCE ISN'T FOND, IT'S TORTURE

The sun was bright through the windows. Nasir squinted as he drew up the shutters. It was going to be another warm day, perfect for fruit-flavoured lattes and crisp sweet pastries. He tucked his ponytail out of the way and headed into the kitchen. The sweet bluesy happiness of Rumer greeted him – Naevia must have had a good night with Crixus.

Naevia herself was already rolling out pastry dough, her bare feet moving soundlessly on the cool flooring. There were two new streaks of magenta in her hair. She smiled over her shoulder.

"We're still baking summer."

Nasir nodded, opening one of the enormous fridges. "Lemon tarts, apricot pastries."

Thank God they'd ordered huge from the fruit market this week. The larder was overflowing with fresh eager produce for their equally eager customers. At this time of year, their fruit products were the biggest sellers. Naevia knew exactly what people wanted, whatever tone the weather took on. Nasir was starting to learn too.

"Cheesecake," Naevia sang softly in time with the music. "Raspberry and white chocolate, orange, and vanilla. All set."

Nasir counted off the finished products that were nestled on the fridge shelves. He could do meringue pies, the melt-in-your-mouth sugar cut with tart fruit. They had enough eggs. He could get them looking pretty good now too. He glanced over at Naevia who nodded and smiled encouragingly. Even though she was the boss, she insisted that he have a say in what was baked.

Nasir was still getting used to that.

"And shortbread, chocolate chip or plain, with ice cream optional," Naevia finished off the itinerary.

Hefting eggs and sugar out onto the countertop, Nasir's expression smoothed into a small soft smile. Ice cream meant Saxa delivering several gallons of her German speciality flavours. And at any other time of year, that meant that the coach of the German Gladiators would visit for a taste of home and a taste of his boyfriend. That wouldn't be happening today though.

Nasir bit his lip and pushed determinedly onto another subject.

"Will Crixus be….?"

"Oh, he'll be here to talk to Saxa all about it." Naevia smiled as she began mixing the filling for the lemon tarts.

Nasir chuckled. In the recent on-pitch clash between the rival footie teams that Crixus and Agron coached, the Fighting Gauls had gotten the victory. Crixus had been in a remarkably good mood ever since. Nasir had even caught him singing along to the radio a few days ago. That had been an awkward moment for both of them.

It had been almost a month since Nasir had seen Agron. It felt like a lot longer.

Nasir ducked his head as he began measuring out ingredients. He knew he was being ridiculous. Agron's job had always been a busy one. But these same few months each year were always the worst. Agron's schedule was so packed and he was often out of the country too, meaning that sometimes Nasir didn't see him for weeks. They both really hated this time of year.

Naevia nudged him gently. She teased him about Agron, but she also understood all too well. The weeks that Crixus was away brought her down too.

"Mira's going to be in later."

"I could make the fruit loaf she likes?"

"Yeah, she'll need it."

Nasir nodded. The Fair Play, Equal Pay campaign that Spartacus was spearheading was fraught with high-stress meetings and subterfuge. Nasir and Naevia were as immersed in it as Agron and Crixus. Mira bore the weight of the campaign's PR, brilliantly dealing with the mudslinging. It left her worn-out though. Making fruit loaf was the least Nasir could do after her amazing work dismantling the press's smear campaign about Agron and his brother.

The bell at the front of the shop was ringing. Nasir blinked. Was it really opening already? Thinking about Agron had clearly distracted him into losing time again. Thankfully, his hands had worked on autopilot and all the prep and baking he'd needed to get done had happened. The first few meringue pies were ready for the oven. Nasir slid them in and set the timer. Naevia had the first shift out the front. He could start on the fruit loaf.

He really needed to stop thinking about Agron.

He stared down into the mixing bowl for a few lost and longing moments. Then he shook his head and reached for the raisins with new determination, pushing Agron with some difficulty to the back of his mind.

It was almost midmorning when he paused again. Several fruit loafs were cooling on the racks and slices of his meringue pies were selling well. Nasir let out a wistful sigh. There'd been no sign of Agron of course.

Saxa had delivered the ice cream with her usual dirty jokes and broad laugh. Crixus had dropped by to see his wife, clapping Nasir on the back as he passed. They'd gotten some custom orders for birthdays and corporate events. Naevia had sung as she'd worked.

Nasir sighed and rubbed at the unhappy twinge in his chest, the leather and wood-bead bracelets wrapped around his wrist clattering softly. It wouldn't be this bad for much longer. The busy months were almost over. Nasir smiled sadly, almost.

The kitchen door opened again and Naevia burst in, armed with a bowl full of meringue pie.

"You missed lunch," she chided, pressing the bowl into his hands. "Take a break, it's quiet out front."

At the suggestion of lunch, Nasir's stomach growled loudly. He smiled in sheepish thanks and headed out the kitchen's back door and into the warm sunshine. There was a private alleyway there that meant he could eat in peace. He leaned back against the wall and closed his eyes. The weather was really good right now. Maybe he'd get a fruit latte when he started his afternoon shift.

Soft warm lips nibbled at his fingers.

Nasir's eyes flew open and he found himself staring at his boyfriend. Agron was clad in a familiar tracksuit emblazoned with his team's name and logo, the jacket open to reveal a damp singlet and glistening skin. He was also eating Nasir's lunch with a stolen spoon.

Nasir was positive that he'd had this dream before.

Agron laughed. "Speechless is fun."

His voice broke the spell. Nasir had the brief presence of mind to put down the bowl before he surged forward. Agron caught him in a hug that should probably have crushed his ribs. All Nasir was aware of was Agron, Agron, Agron here. That was all that mattered.

"That was too fucking long," the German muttered into Nasir's neck.

Nasir nodded and breathed in his boyfriend. He felt Agron do the same. Definitely too fucking long. Agron's hands had already moved down to grab Nasir's ass. Nasir laughed.

"This had better not be a fucking dream."

"So you've been dreaming about me."

Before Agron's shit-eating smirk could get any broader, Nasir gripped him by the back of the neck and pulled him down into a hungry greedy kiss that made them both breathless.

His lunch break ended up being over an hour longer than usual.

-the end

Summary: AU Nasir works in a bakery café with Naevia. He finds it extremely difficult being apart from his football coach boyfriend Agron.

He owed Naevia at least two shifts for this and maybe her favourite Death by Chocolate dessert too.

moved back, gripped Agron by the back of the neck, and pulled him down forcefully into a hungry kiss. Agron growled in agreement into it. He was already making short work of Nasir's belt. He tasted delicious, like melt-in-your-mouth sugar cut with tart fruit.

There was something else in there too though, something new that Nasir chased with his tongue, eager for the mark that he'd already left on his boyfriend – the taste of melt-in-your-mouth sugar, cut with tart fruit.

The familiar taste was all Agron, although…...Nasir laughed into his mouth. He definitely wasn't dreaming. He was also tasting melt-in-your-mouth sugar, cut with tart fruit. He pushed closer for a more thorough lingering taste.

Neither of them stopped smiling for the rest of the day.

Crixus and Agron coached rival footie teams and never missed an opportunity to get under each other's skin. They'd both had black eyes to prove it. In their teams' last on-pitch clash, the Fighting Gauls had gotten the victory. Crixus had been in a good mood ever since. Nasir had even caught him singing along to the radio. That had been awkward for both of them.

Nasir wasn't alone in how he felt. Agron had often privately confessed that he got distracted at work when away from Nasir.

They had weeks of being touch-starved to make up for.

If he got this recipe wrong, Mira would notice and realise immediately what had happened.