“Kou, you’ll be amazing”
“How do you know? I’ve never worked in a real kitchen by myself”
“Yes you have”
“well, not without you in the same kitchen somewhere. You give me confidence”
“You need to have that confidence when I’m not around Kou. We’ve been together almost sixteen years baby. We cook together every single day. You’ve worked in quite a few amazing kitchens with me and learned and perfected so many skills. You have so much talent, all you lack is confidence baby. You’re going to this job I set you up with tomorrow and you’re going to nail being head chef.”
“at a four star place?”
“You were born to cook. You’re perfect. It’s time you allowed yourself to step out of my shadow and show everybody how kick ass you are when you run the show. Kou, I’m not going to force you to do anything, you know that baby but you deserve this job and you will do amazing at this job.”
“I only got it because I’m married to you”
“No, you’ve cooked there a few times with me and the owner and the head chef that just retired saw how good you are. Maybe you would have never been in their kitchen without being with me but damn it baby you didn’t get this job JUST because of me. They see your skill too, they want to hire you. The owner was elated when I told him you wanted the job. I just, I love you and I want you to see how amazing you are on your own. Please, go tomorrow, I promise you your own skill is why you’re hired and fuck anybody who says otherwise. Show them what you can do Kou” Kou hugged Rian “I love you” Rian held Kou tightl “so you’re going tomorrow baby?”
“I’m going, thank you”
“I’ll prepare something nice for when you get off work from your first day”
“isn’t your sister coming over with her new boyfriend?”
“Oh my god I forgot” Kou chuckled “you probably just got too busy meddling in my life” . Rian put Kou in a headlock and tussled his hair “hey you” Kou laughed again and soon their rough housing became love making. Rian and Kou talked blissfully until they both fell asleep right there on the floor.
The next morning Kou woke first and slipped out of bed. Every worry he had came flooding back and he put on a pot of coffee while he cooked breakfast, hoping moving around the kitchen would help calm his nerves. It wouldn’t be so bad if he wasn’t worried about what those people would say to Rian. What if he screwed up? Would Rian be upset if he was fired? He wanted to do his best to make Rian even more proud of him. “Sneaking off?” Rian’s voice startled him and he nearly dropped the spatula in his nervousness. “Easy, don’t burn yourself baby.” Rian hugged him from behind and rested his chin on Kou’s shoulder.
“Sorry, my mind is all over the place.”
“I can tell. Still nervous?”
“Of course, but I’ll try really hard, I won’t give up, I promise.”
“You’ll do great.” He kissed Kou’s cheek and went to make them both a cup of coffee.
“as Rian sat Kou’s mug down he said “it will probably help your nerves if you just think of it like the few times you and I worked there together. You did perfectly, you know the plating and everything so there’s no need to be stressed. I wouldn’t have set this up if I would have had the slightest bit of worry you’d fall on your face”
“yeah, it is comforting I have already worked in that kitchen” They sat down and enjoyed their breakfast together. They could take their time and relax since the place Kou would be working at didn’t open until lunch. “is the rest of the staff the same besides Paul since he’s retiring”
“Yep, I checked that too. You wont be among strangers.”
“are any of them mad it isn’t them getting this job?”
“Not that I know of and that doesn’t matter”
“I just really don’t want to mess up.” He sighed. He felt like he was using Rian as a crutch. “I’m going to do it, I’ll work hard so they’ll want me back.”
“There we go, that’s the spirit and besides, even if you have a bad night, it’s not the end of the world. I had bad nights when I was starting out and I know how it feels to be worried the whole time you’re cooking, but remember, you’re not alone, you have an entire kitchen full of people ready to help you.”
“I know, thank you.”
Rian smiled and pressed a kiss to his cheek. “You’re going to kill it baby.”
Rian laughed. “Good, your sense of humor is still intact.”
He did his best to quit stressing and just enjoyed his day with Rian until it was time to head to work “want me to ride with you?” Rian asked Kou and he shook his head “I need to go by myself. You can’t babysit me all the time. Thank you for offering though. I know you’re just trying to be a good, supportive husband”
“You just look so stressed. I know this will be good for you. You’re going to do amazing baby” Kou smiled and gave a small nod. He would do amazing, he wasn’t going to let Rian down or embarrass him. Kou hurried out to his car and started it up “you can do this Kou” he said to himself, feeling like a complete dork for doing so. When he arrived the owner greeted him “welcome back Kou. The staff and I are excited you’ll be working here.”
“Thank you for letting me” The owner laughed “letting you, you have amazing skill. I was humbled when Rian told me you wanted the job. I had been beside myself with stress over who to replace him with and to have you, seriously, thank you for accepting the position” Kou couldn’t decide if this man was sucking up for Rians sake or if he really meant it.
“It’s no problem really, cooking is one of my passions so I’m happy to be here.”
“Well before you start, we have a surprise for you.” He gestured for Kou to follow him and they went into the kitchen where all the staff was waiting. “First, let us officially welcome you as our new head chef.” Everyone clapped. “We are all very happy to have you here. Second, we ordered you your own chef’s coat, it has your name printed on the front.” The coat was brought out and Kou just looked at it for a moment, feeling touched.
“Thank you so much.” He said as he took his jacket off and put it on.
“Oh and here is the menu for tonight.” The owner said as he turned and picked up a piece of laminated paper. “I thought you might want to go over it with the rest of the staff.”
“Thank you so much for this opportunity.”
“All of us in this kitchen have seen you’re amazing. Plus, I know you wouldn’t come so highly recommended by Rian if you weren’t good. He’s never been one to give false endorsement no matter what the person means to him.” Kou chuckled “sometimes I forget how long you’ve know him”
“Yeah, we go way back. Good luck tonight. I’ll be here all evening since it’s your first night. Depending on how you take to the job I’ll only be here tonight or all week. Don’t get discouraged if you mess up. I understand this is your first time in such an important position.” The owner walked out of the kitchen, most likely to tend to things in the dining room before the evenings service. “do you remember where everything is Kou?” One of the female staff asked “yes, thank you”
“good, so any questions about tonights menu?”
“Not really, I’ve made most of these things with Rian.”
“Well if anything comes up remember you can ask any of us.”
“Thank you, sorry if I’m a little nervous, but I promised I would try.”
“That’s all we can ask for, the boss is pretty easy to please so don’t worry about him getting upset.”
Kou nodded. “Alright, let’s go over this then and get to work.” He went down the list of foods and drinks then set the menu up where everyone could see it just in case. They were all ready to do as he asked and even seemed eager to work with him again. When orders started coming in, he took a deep breath, telling himself he could do this. He thought of Rian, of how calm he always felt in his presence and how Rian believed in his abilities. When he called out his fist order, he had to admit he sounded shaky, but no one seemed to notice and if they did they didn’t say anything about it. He knew if Rian were here he would say they probably knew how he felt, that they had been just as nervous at one point.
Rian couldn’t help but check his phone every few moments. It was incredibly weird not to have Kou there. Kou had become such a warm, welcome thing to have at home. His adorable little house husband. Saying that in Rians head made him smile. Kou had a job when they first got together but he quit after awhile to work with Rian in establishments like he was working now and things like that. They had been spending near all their time together and while this would take getting used to Kou had real talent and he knew once Kou got over his nerves he’d be happy he got the job. Kou wasn’t meant to be a house husband, he was born to feed the masses and Rian wouldn’t keep it from the world.
Kou’s heart jumped a little when a steak was brought back with the complaint of being over cooked. He shook it off, checking the meat and sent it back out, telling the waitress to tell the customer that it was cooked to his specifications and if he had an issue then Kou would come out personally. That got a grin from the staff and helped ease the tension. “I think a bit of Rian is rubbing off on you.” The sous chef said.
“You really think so?”
“Oh yeah, it’s a good thing, trust me.”
Kou smiled brightly at being compared to Rian. There was no one better to aspire to be. He hummed to himself when he wasn’t having to call out orders and wondered what Rian was up too. When he go the chance, he was going to at least text him. He loved him more than anything and he needed him to know how good the day was going.
He managed to find a spare moment about two hours into service and wrote out a text to Rian “Most of my nerves are already gone. I can do this, I really can and I wouldn’t have had the courage to try without you. Thank you. I hope your evening has been going well. I love you and I might not be able to check my phone again before I’m off but I will if I get a moment” When Kou saw it was sent he returned to working, not wanting to disappoint a single person on his first night. Kou wasn’t sure if he was doing well enough for it to be the owners only night here but it was what he was aiming for.
Rian couldn’t help but smile at Kou’s text and he went back to reading his book. He couldn’t wait for him to get home. He was going to prepare him something special to congratulate him for a good first day. He was so proud of him, so happy he had began to see his worth as a chef. Knocking on the door pulled him away from his book and he sat it down as he stood to answer it. He was hugged the moment it opened, his sister’s arms wrapping tightly around him. “Hello to you too.” He said when she pulled back. “How have you been?”
“Same as always, busy, but good.”
“Good.” His eyes met Odin’s and they shook hands. “I trust you’re taking good care of her.”
“Fantastic.” He moved to let them in. “I’m afraid we won’t be having dinner together tonight, Kou is working his first day at a restaurant today and I wanted to spend some alone time with him afterwards.”
You know that’s fine. We can just hangout for a bit then see you another time.”
“so what prompted him working at a place without you?” Odin asked once Wren was done talking. Rian answered “I’ve been waiting for him to get enough confidence to just go on his own and pursue something but I realized that he’s not going to gain self confidence with cooking at a professional level like where he’s working at now until he has to so I set him up with a job without telling him until right before so he couldn’t make me feel bad until I canceled it. Waiting until the last minuet he knew the restaurant was counting on him and he wouldn’t just leave them hanging”
“How mean brother, you shouldn’t just spring something like that on him. I bet he was scared out of his mind.”
“Still, you better make it up to him, he’s so sweet and innocent.”
Rian chuckled. “I’m doing something special for him, so easy.”
“Good, so what should we do. Board games? Movie?”
She looked at Odin. “Sounds good to me love, whatever you want to do, you know I’m right there.”
“You’re so sweet my love.”
“It’s not hard when it’s you.”
Rian chuckled again, happy to see his sister so happy. He pulled out the card game version of The Oregon Trail and taught them how to play since he newly purchased it. They played a few rounds then Rian surrendered the control to Wren so she could pick something on Amazon Prime to watch. She finally settled on a horror film “rent or buy Rian?”
“Just buy it. It seems good.” She clicked the buy button, confirmed then cuddled up to Odin who wrapped his arms around her. Seeing them like that made sadness pull at Rians heart again. He wanted Kou home so badly. He checked his phone again, hoping for a message but he wasn’t surprised when there wasn’t one. That restaurant was busy from open to close. It was amazing he had gotten a chance to message him even once.
“Listen you tell that asshole if he sends that food back a third time, he can leave.” Kou said as he taste tested some chowder.
“Yes sir.” The server said.
“You are on fire tonight.” His boss said. “You know one time Rian actually went out there and had a stare down with a guy, a polite stare down as we like to say around here since he was smiling the whole time. It scared the guy and he ate his meal without another complaint. Rian is always so gentle, it was quite the sight.”
“He did it because Rebecca came in here crying, remember. That asshole insulted her until she was bawling and Rian didn’t like that.” The sous chef added. “We all had to peek out, thought the guy was going to pee himself.”
Kou grinned. “I’m kind of sad I missed it.”
“I’m sure being with him as long as you have you’ve seen plenty of what makes us love him” Kou chuckled “Yeah, he’s amazing” They continued talking about Rian until they had to get back to orders and at the end of the day Kou was surprised to be feeling so proud of himself. He had done it, he had really done it and without Rian at his side. He had been terrified this morning but now he felt grateful to his husband for doing what he needed, not what he wanted. Kou waited until he was buckled up behind the wheel of his car to call Rian “I’m coming home”
“You have no idea how wonderful it is to hear your voice.” Rian said and Kou could hear the smile in his voice.
“You missed me.”
“I did so hurry and get home, I’m nearly done making dinner.”
“Love you too.”
Kou smiled as he hung up, warming at how loving Rian was. He didn’t want to keep him waiting, excited to tell him about his first day and thank him for the push. When he got home, he hurried inside, going straight for the kitchen where Rian was cooking. He pressed a kiss to his lips and Rian chuckled. “Well hello to you too.” He said, smiling.
“How was your day without me?”
“Lonely, even when my sister came over. It’s going to be an adjustment for me too, having to be without you. I’m spoiled it seems”
“I ended up really enjoying today though so thank you. I did much better than I thought I would”
“I knew all you needed was a nudge. I’m sorry I sprung it on you but I was worried you’d back out and never see your potential. You don’t need me in the kitchen, not even a little bit”
“Can I help with anything?”
“No, you just sit down and relax baby.”
“Not even with drinks?”
“Go hard head” Kou smiled before kissing Rian again and leaving the kitchen.
He sat down on the couch and switched on the TV, feeling how tired he was for the first time since he got off work. He hadn’t realized cooking could be so exhausting. Not the cooking, he thought, just the being in charge. When he cooked with Rian, it was Rian who was in charge so he never had to worry about what others were doing. He knew he would settle into it eventually, especially since the first day went so well. “Someone looks exhausted.” Rian said as he rested his hands on Kou’s shoulders.
“I must be, I didn’t even hear you.”
“You’re so amazing Rian, you really are.”
Rian chuckled “Just come eat. I made something special. ” Kou walked to the table with Rian and sat down “Oh wow, thank you! Wow, this was a lot of work”
“You said wow twice my love”
“Because it’s amazing. You didn’t have to do all this”
“Consider it my apology for pushing you. I know you appreciate it but still. I was a bad boy. You could still punish me later too” Kou blushed and Rian just smiled. They enjoyed dinner and talked about eachothers night until bed. The next day Kou was actually excited about work and happily went when it was time to start prepping for the nights service. Rian sent him a text almost instantly when he left “don’t forget to text when you can baby. It’s weird not having you around” Kou texted back at a stop light “maybe you should start teaching a class again or something while I’m at work. That way we will both be busy”
Rian smiled and typed back. “Maybe I will, though I’ll still miss you. I guess I’ll have to spend every moment making sure you know how loved you are.”
Kou couldn’t look at his reply until he was at work and blushed as he walked through the kitchen door. “Someone’s getting naughty texts.” One of the servers, named Naomi, said.
“No, it’s just warm in here.” She and a couple of others laughed which made him blush harder. “We should be preparing, where’s the menu?”
“You were right, Naomi, definitely naughty. He’s avoiding us.”
Naomi patted Kou on the back. “Sorry, we have to tease each other sometimes, makes us feel like family. The only one we couldn’t embarrass was Rian.”
“I don’t think anyone can embarrass Rian.” Kou replied as he slipped into his jacket.
“I think that;s part of what makes him so cool. You’re a lucky man Kou”
“I know, getting on his tv show when I was a kid really set an amazing path for my life”
‘That wasn’t all though. In your short time here I can already see things he must like about you” Kou blushed and stammered a bit “well, um, I mean I might not have had such a deep love of cooking and then stumbled into his classroom when I was older if I hadn’t gotten on which ultimately lead me to him.” Soon they were all prepping for service and tonight flew by, going just as well as the night before it. Every evening they’d have long talks about work and soon Rian had another job at the school, teaching a much harder class than he had previously been teaching. You had to have a lot more experience and or credits to even enroll. Kou and Rian both knew he’d enjoy teaching more at a harder level than he had been previously.
He had only taken the job that Kou enrolled in just to have one since before Kou, Rian liked to stay busy all the time. Things were amazing and their work schedules stayed pretty linear with eachother so they didn’t miss too much off time together. Kou and Rian were starting the next chapter of their lives, eager for what their future held.
~ The End