Kibum was wiping down his station later that evening when Henry came over, towel-drying a large whipping bowl.
“A lot of people liked your new desserts,” Kibum congratulated as he brought some knives over to the sink for cleaning, “But you don’t look too happy,” he noted when he returned,
Henry glanced to the other side of the kitchen where the head chef’s office was located; “When you and Hankyung-”
“Shh,” Kibum glared at him,
Henry rolled his eyes, “When you and Hankyung first got together ... How long was it until you realized you loved him?”
“I don’t know ... It was a few months until I could say: I love you,” Kibum admitted as he began cleaning down his counter with a wet rag, knowing the cleaning crew would clean again after him; “I don‘t love easily, but Hankyung said it after only a month and I don‘t doubt his love.”
Henry nodded his understanding before going back to his station and placing the whipping bowl he was drying on a shelf. After quickly checking his station, he returned to Kibum just as he was drying his counter, “Was there ever a time when you thought you should leave him? Find a girl, instead?”
Kibum suddenly stood up straight and looked at Henry directly. After working together for two years as chef and sous chef, they had become quite close. Now that Henry was back, Kibum felt as if a missing piece of his life had returned. He looked at Henry now curiously, as if trying to solve another puzzle, “I think it every day. But then, I see him, or think of him and I KNOW that there’s no one else,” Kibum answered easily, “Why?”
“When I left three years ago, it was because I didn‘t love him anymore…” Henry sighed heavily as he pulled out his lip chap and applied a thin layer of the raspberry protection;
“And now?” Kibum prompted, throwing his drying towel in the laundry basket with the other rags. He leaned a hip against his counter and crossed his arms,
“In Korea, Ryeowook was my universe. When I left for France, I suddenly realized he’s always my universe. I thought of him every day. I stayed in France until I stopped loving him,” Henry answered, his voice quiet but firm; his gaze steady on Kibum’s.
“And now? Now that you‘ve returned?” Kibum questioned,
“True love isn’t easily stopped …” Henry replied. They stood there in silence for a few moments as the other staff noisily continued about their business within the kitchen. Finally Henry broke the quiet between them; “Everyone knows about you and Hankyung.”
“I know,” Kibum said easily,
“Hankyung has a part of me that no one sees. I like to think I have a part of him no one sees. That‘s why I‘m like this, and Hankyung knows,” Kibum explained, glancing towards the head chef’s office, “I love him. I don‘t care if the whole world knows; just if he knows.”
Henry said nothing as slowly staff started leaving the kitchen. Finally, Hankyung emerged from his office, rubbing the back of his neck wearily. His eyes spotted them and immediately he smiled, walking over to them,
“Home?” Hankyung suggested simply to Kibum who nodded.
Hankyung started to leave when suddenly Kibum grabbed his hand, stopping him. Hankyung looked back at him, startled. In the three years he had worked at Suju restaurant, and the almost three years he had been with Kibum, the sous chef had never done anything within the restaurant that would even suggest at their relationship.
Ignoring the other’s shocked expression, Kibum glanced over at Henry, “Talk to him.” And with that, he tugged on Hankyung’s hand and they left together.