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Two and a half years from now...

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Jack has never told Bitty. That he found his vlog and watched every episode? Entry? He’d saved them for the roadies, when he’d wanted to hear Bittle’s voice but not wanted to bother him. It had been good, just being able to listen and not have to talk. And he’d learnt a lot - enough that now when he helps Bittle in the kitchen he can anticipate what he will likely need next and hand it to him before he asks, like a nurse helping a surgeon during surgery. Although no one will die if Jack hands Bittle the wrong tool.

Now though, Bitty is sick. Feverish and miserable, curled up under a pile of blankets in the guest room because he refuses to let Jack near him in case he catches it. He knows Bitty can be stubborn, and figures he can find the broth recipe on Bitty’s vlog, the one he remembers Bitty saying his MooMaw making him when he was a child and ill. He has no idea if he can replicate it, But he’s willing to give it a damn good try.

Hearing Bitty’s voice come through the tiny speaker on his phone makes him smile, and he carefully notes down the ingredients he needs to run out and get. His phone vibrates in his hand and he looks at the message appearing at the top of his screen.

Are you talking to someone? I can hear voices?

He’s tempted to chirp him, tell him he’s imagining things, but instead sends back a gentle message, asking if he needs anything and is he sure that Jack can’t come in and check on him?

I have the flu, I’m not going to die.

Jack would like to disagree, because plenty of people die from the flu, but this is only the first day and he suspects that Bitty might get worse. At least he’s resting.

When he gets back from the store the house is still quiet, so he sneaks a quick look into the guest room and Bitty is passed out cold, face flushed and drool making a damp patch on the blue pillow case. He nods, determined, because he knows that means Bittle is not dehydrated at least, and sleeping is really the best thing for him.

He hasn’t cooked in a long time, hasn’t needed to in the last six months since Bittle moved in with him post-graduation, and it hasn’t been for lack of trying. Now though, Bitty is in no fit state to stop him so he sets about stripping the meat from the cooked chicken, saving it for sandwiches he can make for himself.

He’s got to boil the bones, something which apparently Bitty swears by in his clip, and Jack just wants to give Bitty a taste of home. Comfort. He has to watch the YouTube video a couple more times, but he’s pretty confident that he’s getting it. It has to reduce down and then he has to strain it. He’s glad that it’s a rest day and he’s not got anywhere he has to be other than where he wants to be right now.

He sends another quick text message to Bitty, asking him if there is anything he needs and feeling a little ridiculous for texting someone who is in the same apartment. He doesn’t get a reply so he figures Bitty is asleep, but he creeps along the hall and peeks into the room to reassure himself that Bitty is in fact still breathing. Reassured he decides to work out, dragging his elliptical so he can face the kitchen and keep an eye on the gently simmering pot. The last thing he needs is to burn it or for it to boil dry.

Two hours later the apartment is filled with the warm scent of chicken, garlic, lemon and thyme. He turns off the heat and removes the pot before going and having a quick shower. Of course when he gets back to the kitchen Bitty is standing there, quilt wrapped around his shoulders and spoon in his hand, tasting the broth. His face is flushed and Jack can tell he’s still not completely healthy but he’s feeling better if he came looking for food.

“Oh my god Jack, this is amazing. What recipe did you use?”

“Uh, your one? Or rather Grandma Bittle’s?” Jack replies, scratching at his nose in embarrassment.

Really?” Jack can recognise Bitty’s confused face, and he’s pretty sure his secret is about to be let out of the bag. “How did you get it?”

For a brief second Jack considers lying, telling him that he rang and asked for it.

“I watched your YouTube channel. I wanted to make you feel better…”

“Oh sugar, it’s wonderful…”

Jack blushes at the praise at the same time something in him unclenches and he’s relieved that Bitty isn’t angry at him for watching something he knew was kind of private. Except for all the strangers and subscribers, but he knows the anonymity has always appealed to Bitty.

“Go curl up on the couch. I’ll bring you a bowl.”

For once Bitty listens to him and Jack enjoys the fact of their role-reversal. Usually it’s Bitty ensuring he eats and rests, but this feels perfect.