“Did you hear, Anderson? That a person’s futile efforts to escape their fate makes them live out their fate almost exactly in the end . ”
“I don’t understand . ”
“I feel like exercising like this would just end up worsening my health . Since I would get to sleep less, become more tired as a result, even if my stamina gets better, I won’t be able to recharge, but I’d still have to get to work, and my body would get wor…”
“Shush . Just start lifting . Did you really think you could work in the kitchens with strength like that? Don’t you dare say stuff like ‘going on the treadmills’ again . ”
Minjoon lifted the barbell without another word after hearing Anderson’s jab . A vein popped on his forehead and his legs shook as he managed to come back to a full stand . Anderson looked at Minjoon before letting out a deep sigh .
“No wonder you were feeling so weak . Do you know how annoying it is for everyone if you collapse? I’m not going to be worried for you, just pissed . ”
“Fine, fine . Good lord . ”
“You can’t keep treating yourself like this . You know how Rachel associates chefs who fall apart in the kitchen . ”
“…Dude, don’t guilt trip me with that shit . ”
“Don’t put me in a situation where I have to do it to begin with . ”
Minjoon squatted down with a little frown . 110 pounds . It was just two thirds of Minjoon’s weight . Anderson helped Minjoon onwards with a few words .
“Most people can’t squat their proper weight because they feel like they can’t do it . I trust you . You aren’t the type to get tired by just this . ”
Minjoon responded with another squat . He was complaining a lot, but he was following through pretty well . As a matter of fact, it was strange seeing him complain of all things . He wasn’t the type to complain much . Weight training really wasn’t his style .
But it wasn’t like Anderson could just let Minjoon keep doing his own thing . Not just because Rachel told him to help the man out, but also because Anderson was Minjoon’s friend . They were friends for only a single year, but they talked a lot during that time . They failed together, they succeeded together . They shared happy things and sad things together as well .
“Don’t get sick . You’ll just end up hurting the people around you as well . ”
“I’m not sick, don’t worry . ”
“Be careful, man . ”
“Fine, fine . I’ll work a little less from now . Don’t worry so much . ”
Anderson frowned . Minjoon seemed to be implying that he was still going to work a lot . Well, whatever . At least he was going to work less .
Minjoon wasn’t someone who lied . That night, he went straight for the bed instead of trying to experiment with new recipes like usual . This was good for Kaya . She, too, was worried about him overworking recently .
“What happened? You don’t usually come to bed this early . ”
“I realized I might be missing something really important because I was focusing too much on something else . I didn’t want to keep too many people worried about me, too . ”
“Good, finally . No need for cassoulet or Jo Reggiano or whatever . Your health comes first . ”
“You were worried?”
“How could I not be? You were putting so much work into cooking . I know how bad that can get . ”
He couldn’t tell if she was mad or worried . Minjoon decided to deal with it for now by lowering his eyebrows with his fingers . This was a person he would’ve normally only seen on television . Right in front of him . As his lover .
Thinking about that made him feel way less tired than he actually was . Kaya frowned annoyedly .
“What are you laughing for?”
“Just because . ”
“I heard guys say that when they don’t want to explain something . ”
“Dunno . ”
“Oh my god, you’re being so frustrating . It’s like you’re getting smarter every day . ”
“That’s a bad thing?”
“For me? Yeah . Your dumb side had a charm to it . ”
“I had a dumb side?”
Minjoon let out a small laughter of surprise . Kaya shut him up with her finger .
“Don’t you laugh . You really were like that, you know?”
“You always got nervous next to me . ”
Minjoon had no idea if that was true . He was nervous next to her? Kaya snorted with a knowing look .
“Women know these things, you know? Especially when guys get nicer and start talking more in front of them . You really think I didn’t notice?”
“…I did? You were being serious just now?”
“Yeah . You totally fell for me first . You get it now? So stop trying to make fun of me like that . ”
Kaya turned off the lamp, covering Minjoon’s vision with sudden darkness . Kaya’s hand came straight onto his head . She was feeling for his head carefully .
“Man, you’re handsome . ”
“What are you doing?”
“Thanks for being you . I couldn’t dare say that in the light . Thanks for always standing up for me . Thanks for thinking for me, thanks for cheering for me . No matter how dark or bright it gets . ”
Minjoon responded by turning the lamp on again . Kaya flinched back with a sudden blush .
“W-what the . Why’d you turn the light on?”
“I wanted to see that face . ”
“So embarrassing… turn it off . Isn’t that enough now?”
“I’ll be next to you . ”
Minjoon rubbed Kaya’s forehead lightly .
“I’ll always be next to you . Don’t worry . I won’t go anywhere . ”
“I’m going to trust you on that . ”
Kaya kissed Minjoon’s cheeks . The lamp turned off again . Minjoon thought to himself as he looked into the darkness .
‘…Man, I’d feel bad about catching a cold, even . ’
It was a little pressuring . In a good way, though .
“So today’s the last day . ”
“Yes, thank you for everything, Minjoon . ”
“It was really fun . I hope you got a lot of good footage out of that . ”
“It’s a lot better than you think . ”
The cameraman smiled happily . Not many filming sessions ended with a good note like this .
“A lot of the viewers will end up liking you more I think, Minjoon . ”
“You must’ve edited me well . ”
“There wasn’t much footage where you looked bad . Especially when you add in interviews about you with other people . ”
No one around Minjoon said anything bad about him . Even that Janet was talking about how nice and hard working the man was . Right then, someone butted her way into the conversation .
“You aren’t going to interview me?”
“…I’m sorry . What was your name again?”
“Deborah . Don’t you forget it . ”
Minjoon looked at Deborah, who flinched back in surprise .
“…Just when does your renovation end?”
“You sound like you really want me gone . ”
“I’m going to stay here until you really get sick of me . ”
Despite her voice, there was a deep shadow under Deborah’s eyes . She was probably feeling frustrated herself . Sometimes, she would stand over the kitchen with a blank look on her face . She would occasionally make an unfinished dish and sigh over her plate .
Occasionally she would make a dish, but it would instantly get rejected by Rachel . It was quite depressing looking at her finish the dish Rachel refused to eat any more of .
“Tell me if you need help . I’m available after dinner . ”
“It’s fine . Your girlfriend would kill me if you did . ”
“…That’s true . ”
“It’s a good thing you’re trying to get more rest . Work hard on keeping your body healthy, alright?”
“I understand . ”
“Chef Minjoon, it’s almost dinner time . ”
“Yup . ”
Deborah smiled as she watched Minjoon walk back into the kitchen . The man was someone to be thankful for . He had quickly turned into Rachel’s motivation for cooking again in the woman’s life .
Minjoon might not know this, but he was affecting Rachel’s state of being quite a bit . Especially with that cassoulet or Jo Reggiano of his . She could still hear Rachel’s words in her ears as clear as day .
‘That boy is even better than me . ’
‘How can he be better than you of all people, though?’
‘I’m just borrowing dishes out of Daniel’s book . I always wonder if my dish is really my dish . But not Minjoon . He can make something similar to Daniel despite never having seen his dishes . ’
‘It’s not that you borrowed Daniel’s cooking, you were just influenced by it . ’
‘I always helped Daniel with his cooking . He was always the main show . The only thing I can do is… being an assistant in the kitchen . That kid is…’
It wasn’t very difficult to imagine what Rachel was about to say right then . Deborah remembered responding with a bitter look back then .
‘Minjoon must be happy for being trusted and loved so much . ’
What did Rachel say after that? Deborah thought to herself as she sat on the sofa . Right then, the door of the resting room opened as Justin walked in with a pale face .
“Jus…tin? What’s wrong?”
“Ah, chef . ”
Justin didn’t even seem to have noticed Deborah being there . Deborah saw a bunch of droplets of sweat on his face .
“Did something happen?”
Justin looked around nervously . He seemed too frightened to even think .
“Chef Minjoon collapsed . ”