“You’re making me fat, Min Yoongi,” Jimin muttered as he continued to eat, “My boyfriend doesn’t like it.”
“Your boyfriend can kiss my ass,” Yoongi hovered over him expectantly, “It doesn’t count as fat if it’s from good food.”
“I’m sure the dietician-slash-gym owner would disagree,” Jimin said, wiping his mouth with a napkin, “But I honestly can’t get enough of this saffron sauce. What’s in it?”
Yoongi gave him a ghost of smile, “I can never tell. It’s my personal secret.”
“You know you don’t have to feed me Yoongi,” Jimin set his napkin in his lap and peered at Yoongi through thick glasses, “You pay me to be a therapist, when really I should be paying you for food that makes me want to lick the plate.”
“You can, I won’t judge,” Yoongi grinned, “people lose themselves when they taste my food.”
“You’re avoiding the point,” Jimin swirled a finger in the light orange sauce on the plate and sucking it off his finger, “I’m here for a reason.”
“Because Jin will fire me if I don’t come see you, right? There’s nothing wrong with me,” Yoongi scowled, pacing between the sleek black couches in Jimin’s office.
“You’re a workaholic for starters,” Jimin said matter-of-factly, eyeing the remaining sauce on the plate, “Like seriously addicted, which is very unhealthy.”
“I am not,” Yoongi countered, “Want some more of that quail?”
“Don’t try and distract me, Yoongi,” Jimin pushes his glasses back on his nose, “When was the last time you left your apartment for something non-work related?”
“I go to the market almost every morning,” Yoongi said, tapping on his thigh nervously.
“To pick up things for the restaurant,” Jimin frowned and crossed his legs, “When was the last time you went on a date?”
Yoongi laughed out loud at that, “Jesus Jimin, I pay you to fix me, not my love life.”
Jimin shrugged, “Sometimes to two are very connected.”
“Well let’s talk about your love life instead, Mr. Connected,” Yoongi plopped on the couch opposite Jimin and threw his feet up on the coffee table.
Jimin frowned deeply, “That would be incredibly unprofessional, Yoongi. What about that guy downstairs that you told me about?”
“It’s only unprofessional cause he makes you miserable, Jimin,” Yoongi rolled his eyes, “And anyway I would rather die than go out with Jeon Jungkook.”
“Why is that?” Jimin asked, ignoring Yoongi’s first comment.
“He’s such a bro type, grew up in California, surfs, the whole nine yards. He would probably invite me out to a sports bar to drink cheap beer and watch basketball,” Yoongi sighed, “And he has kids.”
“Sounds like it might be fun,” Jimin mused, “It would get you out of your comfort zone, and besides, kids can be great.”
“Not when they’re twin terrors that somehow make so much noise that my soufflés fall, which hasn’t happened since I was 12, mind you,” Yoongi’s nose crinkled at the thought of the two blond boys who were constantly racing up and down the apartment stairs while Jungkook yelled at them to hush from the open door of their apartment.
Jimin giggled, “But you like some kids, like your nephew? Taehyung, right?”
“Yeah, of course, but he’s a great kid,” Yoongi sighed, “Barely get to see him with my sister living in Virginia but he’s quiet and interesting to talk to, I guess.”
“So maybe you should just get to know these twin terrors, maybe you’d like them?” Jimin suggested.
“Maybe I’ll just shove knives in my eye sockets instead of going out with the first loser who’s interested in me,” Yoongi smirked at the slight look of horror on Jimin’s face.
“Geez Yoongi, keep saying things like that and I’ll have to submit you to a mental hospital, except I’m sure you’d bully the kitchen staff into submission and be running the place within a week,” Jimin brushed lint off his black cropped pants.
Yoongi smiled wryly, “I can be very charming in my own way.”
“Anyway, thanks for trying the quail,” Yoongi stood up, “I guess it’ll be good for tonight then, you have a better palate than half our customers.”
Jimin smiled, “Think about what we talked about, you’ve got to get out of that restaurant every now and then. If not for your health, then at least mine and Jin’s.”
“I’ll leave my restaurant and take you out on a celebratory outing as soon as you break up with that dick of a boyfriend,” Yoongi countered, taking his black wool coat off the rack by the door and slipping it on.
Jimin pinched the bridge of his nose in exasperation, “See you on Thursday, Yoongi.”
Yoongi winked and bounced out the door, thinking about the menu for the night.
“Ordering two tasting menus.”
The kitchen was chaos, full of steam and too many smells and people running around with hot pans.
“Fire two amuse-bouche.”
Yoongi loved every second.
“Hoseok, I need a quail and a Dover sole for table nine,” one of the waiters called out to Yoongi’s angel and hope, rolled into one almost-always-smiling sous chef.
“I’m still waiting on those beef tenderloins,” Hoseok shouted to the back, “Where are they? Pick up!”
He dinged the bell to summon a waiter and wiped his forehead off with a sleeve, smiling widely at Yoongi, “It seems the quail is a smash hit. It’s that damn sauce, you sauce wizard.”
Yoongi shrugged and winked at him, “I go by many names, and that is definitely one of them.”
He turned back to his quail as Jin pushed into the kitchen through the swarm of waiters. He was dressed, as usual, in a perfectly tailored black suit and perfectly styled black hair. He could have any man or woman in the city, but chose to play host at his very successful restaurant almost every night. He also tried his best to control Yoongi, which often made Yoongi laugh to think about.
“Excuse me, Yoongi,” Jin called through the din of the kitchen, “You should know…”
He had to follow Yoongi to a stove top where he tasted a sauce and spoke to the man stirring it, “Add some salt, Ben.”
“That big banker Reeves or whatever, he says the lamb had never been so good.”
“Really?” Yoongi scoffed, “And what does he know about my lamb?”
Jin sighed, “And the Peterson’s are here wanting to tell you how brilliant you are and how lucky I am to have you.”
Yoongi laughed shortly, chopping onions, “Brilliant chefs belong in the kitchen, and you are incredibly lucky, Jin.”
“At least come say hello,” Jin rubbed his temples, a move Yoongi was all too familiar with, “You know they’re some of my best customers.”
“In a minute,” he waved Jin away and turned to Hoseok, roasting quail in a large pan, “Don’t cook them too long, Seok.”
“I know. I know, they get tough,” Hoseok turned down the heat a fraction.
“No, dry, and we can’t have that,” Yoongi frowned, “When the quail get dry, I get tough.”
“And I want to go over the menu for next week tomorrow,” Jin reappeared as Yoongi made his way to the front of the restaurant.
“Later, later,” Yoongi muttered, putting on his most polite smile to meet the customers.
He emerged from the too loud and too bright kitchen to the relaxed, dim atmosphere of 22 Bleecker Street. Jin had created a dark oasis of good food, no, great food, in the heart of Greenwich Village. Yoongi hated most of the clientele, rich somebodies who thought that because they ate the best food that they knew the best food. But none of them lived and breathed food like Yoongi.
An older woman pulled him into a hug. “You’re an absolute magician, Yoongi,” she exclaimed, husband standing behind her. “And you know my John constantly sings your praises, it’s hard not to get jealous.”
Yoongi smiled, the Peterson’s were always complimenting his food. They came here damn near every night, which also meant they knew food better than most, because Yoongi’s is the best food in the city, no doubt about it.
“I worship anyone who can surprise my palate, son,” the man shook his hand firmly.
“It’s always a pleasure to cook for you two,” Yoongi clasped Mrs. Peterson’s hand in his own, meaning his words.
“We’ll see you next week?” she asked, as her husband handed her a pink coat.
“Of course,” Yoongi smiled, “Have a good night.”
They waved goodbye and he was on the way back to the kitchen when he noticed Jin speaking in his “sir please calm down and I’ll smooth everything over” voice, which meant someone was complaining.
“I’m telling you it’s not cooked properly,” the man was motioning at a plate.
“What’s this?” he sidled up to Jin, who gave him a side long glare, threatening and cold.
“Yoongi, I’ll handle this.”
“I take it you’re the chef?” the man said, sounding upset.
“Yes, obviously,” Yoongi motioned at his white jacket and apron.
“Don’t,” Jin whispered behind him, but Yoongi was too far gone.
“My wife’s foie gras hasn’t been cooked long enough, clearly,” the man motioned at his wife’s plate, while the wife looked like she would rather be anywhere else.
“Excuse me?” Yoongi’s voice was dangerously low, not that the man would know that.
“Why don’t I bring you…” Yoongi grabbed the plate as Jin tried to subdue the man, “a new appetizer with my compliments?”
“There’s no need because this is fine,” Yoongi shook his head at Jin.
“Nothing to be ashamed of, dude,” the man said smugly, as Yoongi stiffened, “Even the best stumble over foie gras.”
“There’s nothing wrong with this,” Yoongi slammed the plate back on the table, making the wife jump, “It’s precisely comme il faut.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” the man asked.
Yoongi smiled slowly, like a cat cornering prey, “Comme il faut? ‘As it should be.” 140 degrees in the oven, 80 degrees water temperature, for 25 minutes. Not too long and not too short, with the perfect touch of pink, dude.”
“That’s it,” the man stood up and threw his napkin on the table, “We’ll take our business elsewhere, right, honey?”
“Perfect,” Yoongi clapped his hands together, “May I suggest the hot dog stand down the street? They cook to order, not to perfection like me.”
The man dragged his wife out of the restaurant, as she sent an apologetic smile to Jin, who sighed deeply.
“Yoongi…” He directed him back to the kitchen with a point, “How many times have I told you?”
“You can’t make a scene every time someone doesn’t like your food,” Jin pushed through the kitchen doors, following Yoongi at his heels.
“Please Jin, that guy was a barbarian,” he snorted, picking his knife and onion chopping back up.
“And a paying customer that I’ll never get back,” Jin was exasperated, “If he thinks the foie gras isn’t done, then it’s not.”
“Foie gras is a cruelty to animals,” Hoseok butted in, and Yoongi knew he was trying to pull some of Jin’s heat off of Yoongi, that kind bastard.
“Stay out of this,” Jin shot Hoseok a warning look, then turned back to Yoongi, “I swear to God, Min, if you weren’t one of the better chefs in this city, I’d fire you.”
“One of the better chefs?” Yoongi waved his knife around, just to make Jin nervous, “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I bet he says that just to annoy you,” Hoseok handed Yoongi a spoon of sauce to taste.
Yoongi hummed in approval and nodded, “He does.”
Jin sighed in frustration, and retreated back to the front of the restaurant.
“Whatever you say chef,” Hoseok smiled at Yoongi, mischief twinkling in his eyes.
The morning had dawned grey and slightly rainy, reminding Yoongi of his small hometown in Oregon, where he and his sister would go out to the beach and get soaking wet in the rain until their teeth were chattering before going home to sit by the fire and listen to their dad’s stories about Korea.
He whistled as he walked down the market by the pier where he knew everyone.
“Hey, pretty boy, how are you?” The large man swept Yoongi up in a bone-crushing hug.
“I’m great, Frank, how are you?” He smiled at the man, wearing a wool sweater that smelled like a home.
“Got some fresh lobster from Maine,” Frank opened a crate full of squirming lobsters.
“Perfect,” Yoongi grinned wide, “Have them delivered by 2:30, okay?”
Frank nodded and clapped him on the back. Yoongi smirked, “And send all the scrawny ones to that other French restaurant down the street from us.”
“Yoongi!” An older woman with a thick Jersey accent called out to him, “Who’s your best friend?”
“You got them, Marilyn?” he asked excitedly.
“Don’t I always deliver?” Marilyn smiled, teeth full of gaps, “Golden tilefish, fresh, line-caught, and just for you.”
“They’re beautiful,” Yoongi breathed, staring down at the big fish packed tightly into ice.
“Give old Marilyn a kiss,” she laughed as he planted a big kiss on her cheek.
“Hey! Why didn’t I get a kiss?” Frank shouted across the crates.
Marilyn laughed, “You ain’t got the goods, Frank!”
Yoongi made his escape.
Yoongi was walking down the empty sidewalk and reading a recipe book he had just picked up from his favorite bookstore when his phone rang.
“Hello?” Yoongi answered his phone and tucked the book under his arm, still strolling leisurely in the chilly weather.
“Hey, it’s me!” his sister’s cheerful voice filled his ear like the sun.
“I’m just checking in,” she continued, “We should be there by nine.”
“Okay, cool. I’ll be sure to be home by then,” he smiled at the thought of his apartment full of the light and laughter that Yumi brought with her everywhere.
“Great! So, what are you doing right now?” she asked, giggling, “Reading a recipe, right?”
Yoongi grimaced, shifting the book under his arm, “Don’t be ridiculous, Yumi. I do have other interests.”
“Uh huh, name one,” she challenged.
“How’s Taehyung?” he changed the subject to one she loved more than anything.
“Adorable, as always,” she cooed, “He’s changed so much since the last time you saw him. Haven’t you, sweetheart?”
Yoongi heard a faint, “I don’t know,” probably from the backseat.
“What do you guys want for dinner?” He asked, unlocking the front door to his apartment building.
“Don’t worry about us, we’ll grab a pizza or something,” Yumi said.
“Absolutely not,” Yoongi scoffed, “What does Tae like to eat these days?”
“Anything,” Yumi giggled, “He’s like a vacuum.”
“Look, I’ll call when we’re closer, okay? Say goodbye to your Uncle Yoongi, Tae,” she called out.
“Bye Uncle Yoongi,” Yoongi heard the boy’s shout loud and clear.
Yumi laughed, “See ya later Uncle Yoongi!”
Yoongi was chuckling and climbing the stairs as he hung up.
“Ah Yoongi, did you just get in?” A voice at the top of the stairs made Yoongi’s smile disappear.
“Oh, Jungkook, hi,” he stumbled over the words, “Yeah, just to drop this stuff off.”
“How are you?” The lean man leaned against the stair railing casually. Yoongi couldn’t deny that he was cute, but definitely not his type.
“Fine,” he stopped by Jungkook, since it seemed like the polite thing to do.
“Are you working tonight?” Jungkook asked, holding out a hand to help Yoongi carry his book and a few bags of groceries, “I know this great little Mexican place that I think you would love, or we can get Thai takeout, if you’d rather stay in.”
“Oh, actually I am working tonight, for a few hours,” Yoongi didn’t hand him any bags, but smiled in a way he hoped looked apologetic, though he’d never been so glad to be telling the truth, “Then my sister and nephew are coming in tonight.”
“Ah nice,” Jungkook swept his light brown hair off his forehead and Yoongi had to physically restrain himself from rolling his eyes at the man’s obvious attempt to show off his bicep, “You know, I don’t give up that easily. One of these days I’m gonna actually convince you to go to dinner with me. I eat a lot when I’m training for marathons so I know the best places.”
“Look, Jungkook,” Yoongi shook his head at the taller man, “I think you should know that I don’t generally do that.”
“What, have dinner?” Jungkook cocked his head at Yoongi.
“Have dinner dates,” Yoongi grimaced.
“What about breakfast?” Jungkook persisted, “I make a mean omelet.”
“You live in my building,” Yoongi pointed out, “And I don’t generally go out with people in my building, as a rule.”
“You seem to have a lot of rules,” Jungkook grinned lazily, as if he totally believed Yoongi would break a rule for him.
Yoongi shrugged and started up the stairs, “Thanks for the offer though.”
Jungkook shook his head amusedly and disappeared into his apartment, leaving Yoongi in peace.
“What’s the problem with having rules?” Yoongi asked, annoyed, standing at Jimin’s stove and searing fresh green beans in a pan as Jimin sat the bar and listened, “It’s not as if I’m controlling or anything. I just prefer things to be done exactly right, which is why I usually end up doing things myself.”
Jimin nodded as Yoongi waved his free hand around, “Do you have any idea how complicated it is to coordinate forty dishes at once every night?”
He scooped the green beans out and put them on an already full plate and threw it down in front of Jimin, “I hope you like scallops.”
“I thought we agreed you weren’t going to cook for me anymore,” Jimin frowned, though he was practically drooling over the plate.
“I didn’t cook it for you. I just need to try some ideas,” Yoongi threw the pan in the sink with a bang, “Who else am I gonna give it to?”
“We’re going to try something new today,” Jimin took a bite of the perfectly seasoned scallop and grinned, “I’m going to ask you some questions and you’re going to answer them.”
“Fine,” Yoongi sat down on a bar stool next to him.
“How long ago was your last relationship?” Jimin asked, spearing a green bean with his fork.
“Isn’t that a little personal?” Yoongi scowled.
“This is therapy, Yoongi,” Jimin chewed thoughtfully, “How long?”
“I don’t know,” Yoongi got up to pace, “Three years ago, maybe four.”
“Who ended it?”
“I did, he was getting way too demanding,” Yoongi shrugged.
“How so?” Jimin took another bite of scallop, humming appreciatively.
“Well, if you must know,” Yoongi started running water in the pan, “He wanted to move in together after two years.”
“Did you try the sauce?” He asked, trying to distract Jimin.
“Sorry, what’s so bad about moving in together after two years?” Jimin asked, scooping up extra sauce with his next bite.
“He asked me to give up my apartment,” Yoongi said simply, “Why would I want to do that? I’d move out and we’d get a place together but he’d eventually leave and then where would I be? Homeless, probably.”
“Oh my god, Yoongi,” Jimin breathed
Yoongi prepared to be chewed out.
“This sauce is so good.”
“Thank you,” Yoongi smiled.
“Where’s my lobster for table 12?” Yoongi shouted to the back.
“Plating, chef,” came the response.
“And I told him,” one of the waiters, Lucas, was talking to Hoseok and another waiter over the prep bar, “I’m a real actor, I don’t do naked bondage movies.”
“The world is so full of pervs,” The other waiter, Mark, agreed, “The guy at table 10 is the worst.”
“Sleazy,” Hoseok nodded knowingly, “Every week he has a different date, poor kids.”
“I swear, if he feels up my ass one more time…” One of the bus boys bumped into Lucas’ back as he was speaking, making him drop two plates of lobster, “Damn it, Carlos, watch out.”
“Pay attention, everyone,” Yoongi growled.
“Sorry, chef,” Lucas ducked his head.
“Fire two lobsters right away,” Yoongi checked the orders and yelled to the back, “Hold on table nine.”
“I’m really sorry, chef,” Lucas looked distraught.
“It’s alright kid, just clean it up and don’t let it happen again,” Yoongi sent him off.
“Now you’re gonna run out of lobster right after I leave,” he grumbled to Hoseok.
Hoseok just laughed, “We’re not going to run out of anything, Yoongi. We’re fine, now hydrate.”
Hoseok tossed him a water bottle.
“Thanks mom,” Yoongi chugged half of it.
The kitchen phone was ringing off the hook and Jin wasn’t here to answer it, for once.
“Will you pick up that damn phone?” Yoongi growled, setting the water bottle back down.
“You’re welcome, chef,” Hoseok said dryly, turning to pick up the incessantly ringing phone.
“Thank you,” Yoongi turned back to plating the replacement lobster.
“Kitchen,” Hoseok answered, listening intently.
“If it’s my sister,” Yoongi grunted, “tell her she said nine and I can’t be there any sooner.”
“Yoongi,” Hoseok’s voice was soft, too soft for work, “It’s for you.”
“Take a message, I’ll get back to them,” Yoongi waved him away.
“No, Yoongi,” Hoseok looked panicked, “I think you better take this one.”
Yoongi groaned and took the phone, scooting the lobster toward the front of the bar, “Done for table 12.”
“Hello,” he shoved the phone between his shoulder and ear, trying to read orders and listen.
“Mr. Min? This is Dr. Burton from St. Vincent’s.”
Yoongi froze, turning to Hoseok with wide eyes.