He just didn't like onigiri the way he enjoyed German foods. But the onigiri with his face on it, placed next to two other onigiri decorated with the faces of his Axis compatriots, had been too-obviously lovingly made to just toss out. So Germany had reluctantly… and yet thankfully, eaten them. They weren't bad at all, even though Italy usually made Germany his favorite foods.
Which is why now, Ludwig, the face of Germany, had to do what he had to do.
He'd gathered all the ingredients up together. They sat on the island in the middle of the kitchen, lined up like soldiers ready for battle. Beef, penne, tomato sauce, an egg… Germany consulted the cookbook. How to Cook for Italians, Beginners' Edition. He'd gotten it at the bookstore that stocked oddly-specific titles. The shop owner had expressed gratitude for his repeat business.
Preheated the oven. Greased the pan.
"Bring lightly salted water to a boil," he read aloud. He poured some water into a pot, and grabbed the salt shaker from the table.
"What are you doing?" Austria stuck his head into the kitchen. "Are you making me dinner?"
Germany rolled his eyes at the freeloading noble. "Get out of here, mooch," he sighed.
"Fine." Austria mumbled a few idle threats and went off to practice his piano. A few moments later, the first few bars of a minuet by Chopin could be heard.
Germany rolled his blue eyes towards the ceiling kitchen and shook the salt shaker above the pot. Splish. The top fell off the shaker, and half the salt fell out into the water. Germany could hear someone laughing from the other room. Prussia was visiting, and was sitting in the den watching TV. He wasn't laughing at Germany, but the blonde soldier got that impression regardless.
"Friggin' Prussia," Germany growled. He looked at the water. There hadn't been a lot of salt, but… the water was a bit more than 'lightly-salted.' More like… 'medium salted.'
"Hm, well… that should be ok." Germany pinched the bridge of his nose and decided to ignore the matter. If he'd been his normal self that day, he would've just poured the water out and started over, but the water was already beginning to boil, and Germany was in a pinch. "Next I…"
Next Ludwig was supposed to add the pasta and cook it for about ten minutes or until 'al dente'. The problem: The German didn't know what that meant. He dumped the noodles in anyway and decided to look it up.
"Austria!" the blonde called out a few minutes later. "Where's the dictionary?"
Austria banged down on the piano keys. "The what?"
"The—hold on." Germany made his way to the music room to confront the noble.
"It's in the front room," was the answer. Germany walked back through the kitchen, into the living room, where Prussia was crashed on the couch, watching morning cartoons.
"Hey, West," he said. "What are you in such a hurry for?"
"I've got a deadline to meet," Germany said tersely. He made his way down the front hall and turned when he reached the front door. There was a little room for receiving guests, with chairs and a table. Germany picked the dictionary up off the table and flipped through it.
…Pages were missing.
"The hell? Austria!"
"There are pages missing!" Germany shouted down the hall.
"Wasn't me!" declared the freeloading noble. Germany walked into the den and glared at Prussia. Prussia shrugged.
"Wasn't me, either, bro. Geez, you should take better care of your things," he said. "Hey, y'know, it could've been Italy. …West?"
Ludwig had ignore his older brother and gone back into the kitchen. Fifteen minutes had already passed; hopefully the mixture was already 'al dente.' Now he needed to drain the pasta. …Ack, it wasn't in an easily-drainable pot. It was just a regular pot. Germany took a huge wooden spoon and, trying his best to keep the pasta firmly in place with it, tilted the pot over the sink so that the water would slowly pour out.
"Um, what are you doing?" Prussia had poked his head in through the open doorway.
"Yeah, what?" Austria had poked his head in through a different doorway. The two gazed curiously at their companion.
Germany turned to glare at them. His hand shook unexpectedly, and he dropped the pot into the sink. Half of the pasta fell out.
A snarl escaped the back of Germany's throat. "Stop sabotaging me!" he snapped.
"What are you talking about?" Prussia gave Austria a genuinely bewildered look.
"Snarling is uncouth," was all that Austria said.
In a large skillet over medium heat, Germany was supposed to cook the beef until brown. "Damn, I should've started doing this while I was cooking the pasta!" he murmured, rankled. He started stirring in the pasta sauce while the beef was still cooking. Soon, steam was rising in a heady thickness above the skillet.
"Is he going to set off the fire alarm?" Austria and Prussia were now sitting at the island in the middle of the kitchen, watching with unabashed curiosity the German who was so absorbed in what was already doomed to be a culinary failure.
While the sauce was burning, Germany was searching the fridge.
"Austria, where's the cheese you bought?" Germany asked, his head in the fridge. "I'm supposed to mix the different cheeses?"
"Cheeses…? Um, bottom shelf."
Germany crouched down and then let out a frustrated wail.
"You only got one kind of cheese when you went to the store this week?"
"I didn't know."
"I need three kinds."
"Well, there's some cheddar left in the pantry, too."
Germany took the brie out of the fridge and got the cheddar from the pantry. The beef began to blacken as he grated the cheese.
In a dish he poured the pasta, sauce/beef, and threw on a pitiful amount of cheese.
"Are you supposed to layer it?" Prussia asked, amazed.
"No time!" Germany said.
"There's no time!" Germany cried.
He shoved the concoction in the oven. He slammed the door shut with a clang.
"…Now what?" asked Austria.
"Now we wait," Germany said somberly.
The three of them look solemnly at the oven.
Austria and Prussia were playing cards in the kitchen when Germany ran in about fifty minutes later. The two did a double-take. Germany was dressed in full military uniform.
"Cooking is serious business, eh, West?" Prussia remarked.
"I forgot to set the timer!" Germany shouted plaintively. "I was supposed to take it out ten minutes ago!" He tore the oven door open, shoved his hands in some mitts, and rescued the burnt lasagna from its hell.
"…Uh, Germany…" Austria held his tongue.
"No one would eat that mess," Prussia added brusquely.
"No time," Germany repeated. "No time!"
"Hey, were you supposed to mix this egg into anything?" Austria asked, holding up the forgotten ingredient.
Germany sweat dropped. "No time!"
"Ve, Romano! Let's chase butterflies!" Italy smiled at his older brother. They were sitting out on the lawn at a table, having their breakfast al fresco. It was a beautiful sunny morning. "Although, y'know, I'm still kind of hungry. ...Let's eat another breakfast, and then chase butterflies!"
"No, Veneziano, I think we should sit around and wait for awhile." Romano smirked knowingly. "Something exciting might happen."
"Exciting?" Italy blinked. "Like a parade?"
"Hmm, sort of," Romano said. "Except no, not really at all like a parade. I think Germany might be coming over."
"Ve~?" Italy's face lit up. "Really? Really? Really? Germany's coming here? Why?"
Romano laughed smugly. "Because I sent him a letter this morning! I have a copy of it here for you, conveniently enough." He slapped a piece of paper down in front of his brother.
If you don't deliver pasta to Italy by noon, I'll put a curse on him!
With Love from Mother Russia.
"Ve~." Italy smiled. "That's a scary letter for sure, but you know, I don't think Germany would fall for—"
"Holy shit! Here comes the potato bastard now!" Romano pointed down their front path.
Germany sprinted up the lawn. Before he was halfway up the lawn Romano was doubled over, his stomach already aching from laughter. Germany wore his military uniform and a worried expression. In his hands was a tin. The top was covered with aluminum foil. He was still wearing the oven mitts. They were a manly pink color.
"I'm here!" Germany slid to a stop in front of them. "…Italy?"
"Germany!" Italy sprung up and glomped the burly man so fast he nearly knocked Germany over.
"Ve~ what's this?" Italy poked at the tin.
"Hahaha you idiot, you actually brought pasta for us?" Tears welled up in Romano's eyes as he tried futilely to silence his laughter.
An out-of-place tumbleweed slid past during the short awkward silence that ensued. Gears inside of Germany's mind clicked into place and he realized.
Oh jeez, he couldn't believe he'd fallen for this.
"It's… It's just for North Italy," he said, crestfallen, feeling like a complete idiot.
Italy's eyes lit up for the second time that morning. "You cooked something just for me! Germany!" Italy squeezed him so hard, Germany begun to wonder if his ribcage was going to crack. He fumbled with the tin, debating whether to let it accidentally drop to the ground.
"Let me see! Let me see!"
"Hmph, I'm taking a piece anyway, potato brains," Romano declared boisterously. Germany set the tin down on their outside table and flinched as Romano reached out and peeled back the foil.
The Italian brothers stared…
Romano trembled. Italy blinked. Romano began to rock back and forth with exponential force. And then…
"BAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHA!" He threw himself backwards and began to roll around the yard. "Feliciano, have you ever seen such a horrible lasagna in all your life!"
"That's supposed to be lasagna?" Italy muttered. Germany looked crushed. "Oh! But! Um! It definitely looks… I think it looks…"
It was basically goop. A thin topping of brie slid this way, while the cheddar topping slid the other way. Little charred black bits that were either meat, or really big raisons, dotted the mushy yellow stuff that could've once been noodles that made up the bulk of it. It looked like some sort of banana raison pudding.
Except it was lasagna.
That Germany had made.
"Eh… it's very…" Italy sulked. He didn't want to lie to Germany. "Bad-looking."
Germany sighed. "Well, I was in a rush, you see, because I thought Russia was going to hex you."
"Oi, don't do a sloppy job when you get all upset because you think my brother's in danger," Romano said.
Italy's eyes got really wide. "Germany!" he said gleefully. "Did you make this because you were worried about me?"
Germany dodged the question. "And now, for the finishing touch!" he declared. If he could pull this off, he might even look cool! He produced a ketchup bottle from behind his back.
"Hey, where were you keeping that?" Romano wanted to know. Germany ignored him. He spun the bottle upside down, popped open the flip top, and began to squirt ketchup all over the pasta. Italy squirmed, but he figured Germany couldn't be making the dish any worse, so he stayed quiet.
Germany finished off with a curlicue design. "FINISHED!" he announced.
"Bahahaha, what the hell are you doing, potato—oh." Romano and Italy stared at the lasagna. A chill wind came in and ruffled everyone's hair, as winds are wont to do during dramatic pauses.
"…It's me!" Italy grinned. "I look goofy."
"Ah, well… I tried." Germany couldn't look the brothers in the face. On the lasagna was a lopsided, shaky drawing of North Italy's face.
"…But I still can't eat this," Italy confessed. "…I think I'll get poisoned."
Germany sighed. "It's ok."
"But! But!" Italy jumped at the blonde. "Huuuuug. Ah, brother! You can't take pictures of Germany's lasagna with your cell phone to send to your friends! Cell phones haven't been invented yet! Tell you what Germany," he said, taking Germany's hands in his, "how about I teach you how to make pasta? I can finally teach you something!"
Italy looked so incredibly pleased that it actually made Germany feel a lot better. Romano's laughter was going to sting for quite a while, though.
"Wait 'til Spain sees this," Romano snickered. Germany hoped Romano would forget to send pictures to France. Somehow he doubted it.
Meanwhile, back in the German homestead.
"Fifty dollars say he's been brainwashed by aliens," Prussia said.
Austria had his hand in front of his mouth, considering. "Hmmm. I still say he's being blackmailed."
"No way. It had to have been America and his alien friend," Prussia said.
"What alien friend?"
"You know, that Tony guy?"
"Are you saying America really talks to aliens? …And that aliens have names like 'Tony'?"
"Aliens could probably make a better pasta than West," Prussia said. "Normally he's so methodical, I have no idea what could've made him flip out like that. His cooking is usually really good. It's much better that mine, that's one of the reasons I'm always crashing here."
A light went on in Austria's head. "Oh! It must have something to do with… Yeah, that would do it."
"What? What would make West act like that?" Prussia asked.
"Hm? Oh, I dunno. Probably aliens." Austria smiled to himself.
"You're a liar, and you cheat at cards," Prussia said angrily.
"I do not," Austria said matter-of-factly.
As the two got into another argument, the clock in the kitchen struck noon.
"…What the hell is this?" France asked, squinting at his cell-phone-that-hadn't-been-invented yet. "Why did Romano send me a picture of some gross-looking banana pudding?"
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