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I'm No Chef But I Tried It For Love

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“Absolutely not.”

Matteo had buried himself under three thick covers, only a tuft of hair peeking out from his cocoon. His voice was muffled by the stack of covers resting on him, but even more so by the dreadful cold he had caught a few days ago, leaving him feverish, snotty, and incredibly pissed off.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” David grumbled at the comically large pile that consisted of Matteo and his comforters, and crossed his arms over his chest. It had been going on for at least ten minutes now, this battle of wills, and he was starting to lose his patience. For a person who had been practically bedridden for four days, Matteo had a surprising amount of persistence.

“You need to eat,” David said, his voice a little louder, a little more demanding. Unfortunately, it didn’t have the reaction he’d hoped for, and as there was no response nor movement under the covers, he sighed deeply and pinched the bridge of his nose. He really wanted Matteo to get better, but now that his fever had finally gone down from “alarming” to “still worrying but probably okay”, he had gained enough energy to complain and sulk – and apparently sabotage his own recovery.

“Matteo, I’m serious! The soup, now,” David gritted through his teeth and, as a last resort, grabbed the covers, giving them a firm tug. He was rewarded with a startled yelp from Matteo as the covers slid down enough for his face to emerge from the blanket nest.

“I’m doing this for you,” David continued insisting, trying to tug at the blankets again, but Matteo got a hold of them fast enough to stop them from slipping down any further.

“Don’t want it,” he scowled at David, pursing his mouth in a thin line, and tried to get the covers back so he could wrap himself tighter in their warmth, but David’s tight grip didn’t give in. Matteo let out a long and frustrated whine. He was aching all over and couldn’t breathe through his left nostril. Earlier in the day, he had sneezed so hard he saw stars for a moment, contemplating if he might actually faint from the vertigo it had caused. Surely, he thought, David would have mercy on him, but no such luck: David simply lifted his brows, looking entirely unamused.

Matteo stared straight back at him, coughing pointedly, and mustered up the best puppy eyes he could manage, given his snotty state, but – if he couldn’t make David give in, at least he could try to gain some sympathy for his misery.

David let out a deep sigh, clearly not in the mood for Matteo’s antics anymore, and pulled the duvets again with more force this time, making Matteo grip them as hard as he could, leaning back against the drag.

“You've been eating it for two days, I think you’ll manage,” David pointed, and released his hold of the covers abruptly. Matteo, not prepared for the sudden lack of pull, shrieked and fell on his back, giving David a chance to steal the duvets away from him. Matteo flapped his arms around weakly, trying to grab at them, but his flu-induced sluggishness made him way too slow for David’s reflexes.

David quickly crawled onto the bed and flopped himself on his stomach to press onto the pile of covers to keep them to himself, swatting away Matteo’s grabby hands, a triumphant smirk spreading across his face.

“I win.”

Matteo made a protesting sound, staring at David with a betrayed expression. He pouted his lips, trying to will David to hand over the covers with his angry stare, but knew the battle was already lost. Matteo shuddered and let out a frustrated sigh, running his hands through his tangled hair and tugging it slightly.

Matteo absolutely hated getting sick, but most of all, he hated having a fever. It made him feel cold, as well as feeling weak and disoriented, and he’d lack the energy to do absolutely anything but lay down completely still and hope the covers were enough to rub away the cold sweat running down his back.

He had tried to get through it on his own several times. However, his complete inability to do anything but sleep after coming down with a fever didn’t exactly mix well with the acute need of drinking lots of water and eating regularly that were quite essential for getting better, and – obviously – living. So, when he had eventually swallowed his pride to ask for help, someone had always been there to take care of him until he was able to stand at least 5 minutes straight. Back in the days it had been Jonas or Hanna, and after his move to the flat share, it had mostly been Hans, with some assistance from Linn when needed. Now, though, it was always David.

David, whom Matteo loved dearly and who was nothing but a sweetheart when nursing Matteo back to health. He just couldn’t cook to save his life.

“Fine.” Matteo threw his hands in the air in defeated manner and dropped them on his sides, the hands landing on the bed with a silent thud. “The truth is your soup sucks,” he admitted silently, bringing his arms back down and wrapping them around himself to try and ease off the shudders that were going through him like waves. All the while he kept glancing longingly at the duvets David had brutally confiscated from him. A thought crossed his mind to try and pull at them from a different angle, causing David to roll down the bed. That would serve him right for leaving Matteo to freeze.

David gaped at Matteo, taken aback by the sudden proclamation. David felt like he was a fish on dry land, as he tried to find his words, opening and closing his mouth without anything coming out.

“What?” he finally managed, still completely baffled by Matteo’s statement. It had to be a joke, was the first thought that came to David’s mind. Matteo had already eaten the soup for a couple of times and now he was suddenly saying it was awful? Sure, David had gone to the lectures of his classes during the days, but had made Hans to promise he’d pour the liquid down Matteo’s throat if that was what it took to make him eat something – and as far as David was aware, no such force had been needed.

Matteo grimaced, looking guilty over blurting out what he just had, and brought another one of his hands up to fiddle with his blond mess of a hair again, eyeing David remorsefully. He looked kind of small, when he did that, sniffling quietly, and the soft part of David kind of wanted to give him the world right then and there. The thought was short-lived, however, since the sensible part of him was mildly offended by having his cooking insulted.

“You know I appreciate your help a lot, and I'm super grateful for it, but– ” Matteo said, his hoarse voice catching in his throat and making him cough again.
“But really – and I say this my Italian ass being completely, utterly in love with you – you can’t cook for shit.”

“What?!” David exclaimed in protest, “I don’t– of course I can! Besides, you’ve been eating the damn soup for days, why didn’t you say anything sooner?”

“Didn’t want to offend you,” Matteo muttered, “and like, it’s totally cool to believe in your skills but you can’t seriously say you think it’s good.” The soup tasted, in fact, so foul it was a miracle Matteo was able to keep it down, but Hans’ could be very persuading and really, quite scary, when he was set on taking care of someone.

“But I followed the recipe,” David mumbled mostly to himself, frowning and trying to think through his process of making the soup. He was certain he had followed it precisely and checked all the amounts for the ingredients. There should be no reason for it to be that bad.

“I’m sure you did,” Matteo assured, “but did you ever taste it yourself?”

Silence fell heavy over them. He might or might not have forgotten that part, despite Matteo giving him several lectures of the “importance of tasting everything you put in your pot” and “knowing what you’re making”. He’d been in such a hurry he had simply fixed the soup as fast as possible and bolted out the door. During the days he had had lunch at the place he had happened to be at, so that meant he’d only had something lighter when coming back to look after Matteo.

David averted his gaze, looking a bit guilty, and Matteo let out a snort that made him spur into a coughing fit. David rolled over and sat up, being on Matteo’s side in an instant and brought his hand up to gently pat and stroke his back to help ease the coughs.

“You’re– whoa, dizzy,” Matteo cut off his sentence, his breathing still a little ragged by the hacking coughs, and pressed a palm on his forehead. He leaned lightly to David’s touch, and shook his head, taking a deep breath. “Ugh, okay, what was I– ah, yeah, if you still insist it’s fine after tasting it, I'll eat it.”

David was still stroking his back in comforting circular motions, and hummed in agreement.

“Fine, I’ll taste it,” he sighed, trying to ignore the slight uncertainty that had made its way into his voice. You see, when he said he could cook he might’ve exaggerated a little bit. He was able to make sandwiches and even put together a sauce with potatoes that would keep him alive for a couple of days. What he couldn’t do, was to make anything off the top of his head or tell if a recipe was bad. He also had zero understanding of measurements, so if there was a typing error in the recipe, there was no way he’d be able to tell before tasting the end product.

He had had a phase when he had baked a lot at home, testing out the theory of it helping to release stress. That’s how he’d stumbled across an easy-sounding muffin recipe, and decided to give it a shot. It had said to add 10 teaspoons of salt, which made him pause in confusion for a moment, but seeing the recipe also had 2dl of sugar, he had simply thought it would balance it out and dumped the amount of salt into the mix without too much consideration. When David had brought the cookies to Matteo and Laura with a horrified expression on his face, they had laughed so hard they had been gasping for air for several minutes straight. Needless to say, he had dropped baking after the incident, and now he was not entirely sure what he was signing up for by agreeing to the taste the soup he’d have no one but himself to blame for. But if was going to make Matteo convinced to eat something, he’d take the chance.

David got out of bed to move to the kitchen, Matteo being absolutely no help by acting like a limp noodle for the hell of it, when David tried to drag him up to join him. David managed to get him on his feet after some manoeuvring, only to spot him shivering pitifully.

“Ugh,” Matteo moaned, sniffing again, and rubbed his eyes. Despite all the snot and whining, David couldn’t help the fondness towards him that blossomed in his chest at the sight. He huffed, giving Matteo a small smile and tried to tame down the worry that gnawed at him. He knew, logically, that Matteo was going to be just fine – his colds just tended to be long-lasting and fierce, which really wasn’t ideal.

David scanned the room, his eyes landing on a piece of clothing discarded on the floor, and picked up what appeared to be his hoodie, and throw it around Matteo. Matteo hummed appreciatively, zipping it all the way up to his chin and buried his nose to the collar of the shirt, inhaling deeply.

The jacket was so warm, and it smelled like David. He couldn’t really think of anything better at the moment – except David himself, of course, being warm and smelling like, well, David.

They both padded their way to the kitchen, Matteo dropping himself on the closest chair on sight as David pulled the container full of soup out of the fridge. He made a point of pouring every last drop of it into a deep bowl, looking over to Matteo who simply raised his eyebrows but made no comment on it.

The low hum of the microwave filled the room, and while waiting for the soup to warm up, David made his way to Matteo, gently wrapped his arms around his shoulders, and bent down to press a tender kiss on his head. Matteo’s hair was slightly damp and he basically radiated heat all the while shivering slightly. A dead giveaway of his temperature rising again.

“How are you feeling?” David asked softly, as Matteo leaned into his abdomen, nuzzling his face into David’s sweater, trying to leech any warmth he could possibly get to fight off the cold shivers running up and down his spine.

“Still awful,” Matteo mumbled into David’s shirt, his shoulders slouching a little bit, “and cold.”

David cursed silently, bringing his hand to stroke Matteo’s hair. It would probably take another few days for whatever virus he had caught to die down, but his fever was what made David worry. Now that the temperature wasn’t skyrocketing anymore and medicine could get rid of the rest, it didn’t cause him to lose his sleep over it. Matteo was a grown-up, after all, so a flu like this would hardly do any damage.

David placed another kiss on Matteo’s head before making a short trip to the bathroom, digging out their painkillers from the sink cabinet and returning to the kitchen.

“You should take another one, it seems like your fever is acting up again,” he explained, placing the box of ibuprofen in front of Matteo and turning to fetch him a glass of water. Just as he brought the glass to the table– which Matteo accepted with no complaints, one of the fever-reducing pills already in his other hand – the microwave dinged and David went to pull out a steaming plate. The bowl was sort of hot to the touch, but with hurried movements, David managed to carry it over to the table, then grabbed two spoons before sitting down on the chair next to Matteo. Matteo had completely downed the glass of water and was now eyeing the sort of greenish-yellow liquid, scrunching up his nose disapprovingly.

“What was it even supposed to be,” he muttered, frowning like the mere sight of the soup was causing him pain.

“Cauliflower and spinach with some chicken,” David replied, trying to come off as nonchalant, grabbing a spoon and handing the other one to his still scowling boyfriend.

“We had a deal,” Matteo reminded, taking the spoon handed to him and pointing it back to David. “You go first.”

David rolled his eyes, then dropped his gaze to the contents of the bowl and swallowed. He breathed in, and immediately jerked the back of his hand on his mouth, wrinkling his nose. He tried to play it down as if he simply brought his hand up to sweep his nose quickly, but it was very obvious the stench of the soup had been everything but appealing. Matteo thanked his luck he was currently unable to smell anything – who would’ve guessed a stuffy nose would actually have some upsides as well.

The pieces of chicken floating around the bowl looked like something not really suitable to eat, and for a second Matteo suspect David wouldn’t follow through with the deal. David was, however, very competitive at heart, and with a deep breath, he took a spoonful of the mixture, blew on it to get it to cool down some, and stuck it into his mouth in one steady swoop.

Matteo burst out laughing after David very visibly cringed immediately after, struggling to swallow the soup. He was never going to hear the end of this.

“How the fuck can you make a sandwich with pickled cucumber and whipped cream taste good, while I can’t even manage a simple soup with a recipe under my nose,” David moaned, throwing his spoon on the table and swatting at his cackling boyfriend. “Don’t you dare to laugh! My pride has suffered enough.”

Matteo didn’t say anything, managing to tone down his laughter into a shit-eating grin as he pushed the soup bowl further towards David.

“Yeah, I’m not touching it,” Matteo repeated, earning a groan from David, and spiralled back into cackling until the laughs turned into coughs that hacked through him again.

The last of Matteo’s sick days consisted of convenience foods and sandwiches until he was finally able to make something more nourishing himself, and it didn’t take too long for him to be back on his feet.

David’s pride took a little longer to recover. He never made soup again.