Today was one of the happiest days for Kaya. At the same time, the most awkward one. The victory seat of Grand Chef that felt so far away and thought that she wasn’t going to be related at all was right in front of her. On top of that, her family that she was always worrying about appeared here as if they didn’t have any problems…… for her, she couldn’t be more happy than ever, because the best thing for Kaya was her family.
However, she couldn’t just be happy. Jo Minjoon got eliminated. But of course, this didn’t mean that he got eliminated for life. Whenever and whoever it was, one of the two had to get eliminated. But she couldn’t do anything about her stifled feelings.
“Kaya. Why laik that?”
“Huh? No, it’s nothing. I was thinking about something for a moment. Drink this lemon smoothie. The quality of the lemon is really good so the difference to what I made at home is like heaven and earth.”
Kaya brought the straw to Gemma’s mouth. Gemma took a sip and put a smile that for others would seem contorted. Jo Minjoon got into the hall. He looked at the people gathered on the table with awkward eyes: Anderson, Kaya, and their families. On the table there were things like cakes, biscuits, ice creams, wines, etc.
Jo Minjoon sat next to Jo Ara and silently asked.
“Did you talk well?”
“How well could I have done? I only realized that my conversing skills were hopeless. Even so, one thing was easy to understand. ‘My korean name is Anduksam……’ “
At those words, Jo Minjoon started to cough as if something got stuck on his throat. His eye that had a tear twitched and looked at Jo Ara.
“Did Anderson say that?”
“If not, how will I know?”
“…….Now that I look, it seems like you also explained the meaning.”
“I didn’t, but I did laugh for quite a while.”
For some reason, he did feel that Anderson’s eyes were quite chilly. As they made eye contact and saw that his eyelashes were trembling as if he put strength in it, he thought that he wouldn’t see him off kind heartedly. Jo Minjoon opened his mouth astoundedly.
“Anderson, it seems like there is a misunderstanding…..”
“Shut up. I’m not listening to you. That’s why my parents taught me not to trust everyone………”
“This kid is making us into some weird parents. Fabio, what do you think about it?”
“Disobeying kids that don’t listen to the words of their parents always use their parents as an excuse in this kind of situation. We taught them wrong.”
The both of them let out sighs. Only Anderson, who became a problematic child, frowned.
“Just when? Aren’t you even busy when you have a restaurant?”
“It’s fine. This week is a vacation.”
“…….What about the reservations?”
“This is why raising a child is in vain. Just what day is tomorrow?”
Anderson rolled his eyes for a moment. And opened his mouth as if he didn’t know at all.
“First, it doesn’t seem like your birthdays.”
“It’s our wedding anniversary! I told you he is like this… Just when are you planning to get some affection?”
“Just where in the world is a child that even remembers the wedding anniversary of their parents. Now you will also tell me to remember your weights. Leave it. Just eat quickly and go away.”
“I’m sorry. We couldn’t teach our son how to properly age. Miss Kaya? You are having it hard, right?”
“You did leave quite a terrible son.”
“…….I don’t think it should be something I should hear from you.”
Anderson glared at Kaya and growled. However Kaya put a confident smile as if she had won and draw Gemma closer by her neck.
“I am a nice daughter. And also a nice sister. Right Gemma?”
“See? She says so.”
“……….It seems that there’s no one on my side in this life.”
Didn’t the one he trusted in give him a name that made people burst to laughter when they heard it? His parents focused more on making fun of him rather than praising him. Anderson started to mash down the carrot pound cake because of the nervousness.
“……Anderson? You didn’t mash down the cake just for fun, right?”
The love of the parents that even make their atheist son a believer.
Jo Ara snickered and whispered to Jo Minjoon’s ear in a low voice.
“Anderson is cute.”
“…….Who is what?”
“He is cute. He looks like model but the things he does are really cute.”
Jo Minjoon looked at Jo Ara with cold eyes. He said with a strict voice.
“Don’t get weird thoughts. Didn’t I tell you not to think about things like relationships before you get to college?”
“Oh really, can’t I even say these things?”
“…….Don’t even look to his side. If you get close to him, only your life will get more tired. Although in the first place it wouldn’t happen, but just imagining it is horrible. Anyways, don’t even give him a glance because I’m totally opposed to it.”
“Leave it. Do you think that this is the Joseon Dynasty?”
Jo Ara grumbled and drank her tea. Next to Jo Ara, Gemma slightly glanced at her and carefully pushed a dish.
“Eat dis. It delicius.”
“Ah, yea. Thanks.”
Jo Ara opened her eyes roundly as if she got surprised and soon, she smiled merrily and received it. And after taking a bite, she smiled cheerfully and looked at Gemma. Jo Minjoon smirked and pinched Jo Ara’s cheek.
Gemma and Jo Ara started to converse with a sloppy English. But of course, the reason for the sloppiness was different, but the point that the both of them were enjoying it was the same.
As the night went on and the families returned to their rooms, only three remained on the tables. There was one candle lit as to make the atmosphere but……nobody could enjoy it. Anderson stared at the candle and opened his mouth.
“You are leaving tomorrow?”
“Now I will be alone with her.”
Anderson trembled as if it was something terrible. Kaya said with a cold voice.
“Why do you act like you are the victim? The victim here is me.”
“Hmph. Even if my temperament is dirty, it’s not as much as yours.”
“I wonder. They say that you can see the nature of a person when you look at how they treat their family. I think that it’s really clear between you and me, and whoever sees it can see that difference. Isn’t that right Minjoon?”
Anderson glanced at Jo Minjoon. Instead of replying, he turned the sight away and scratched his head. Anderson grumbled.
“Shameless bastard. You even gave me a weird name but now, you don’t even take my side. Do you even have some conscience?”
“Even if he’s nicer than you, he should be at least a hundred times more.”
“……If I stay between the two of you only I become the bastard. I will leave first.”
Anderson stood up. Kaya said while flinching.
“Today is Minjoon’s last day, you are really leaving?”
“What if it is? We can see each other later.”
Those were some hard hearted words, but in the end it meant that it wouldn’t end here. Anderson glanced back at Jo Minjoon and slowly said.
“The name of Anduksam you gave me….. I know that it is a weird one but I won’t throw it away. Because it was also me that said that it had an Asian feeling. From now on, everytime I meet a korean I will introduce myself with that name.”
“No, I don’t think there’s any need……….”
“There’s no need to feel sorry. Because I will also tell them that you were the one that gave me this name. So everyone in the world will point you about your human nature. This is my revenge.”
Jo Minjoon forced a laugh. Just where did that absurd revenge come from? Jo Minjoon looked at Anderson’s back getting farther away and said.
“Thanks for while, Anderson.”
Anderson’s feet stopped. He said while not turning back.
“Don’t make the atmosphere uselessly. Whenever it is, we are meant to meet each other.”
Precisely speaking, they would meet tomorrow. And even if tomorrow passed, they would see each other at the finals. However, it was something that Anderson couldn’t know. Jo Minjoon calmly smiled and said.
Anderson didn’t reply back. It could be that he didn’t have the words to reply back, or that he didn’t understand why he was saying sorry. The shadow disappeared along the silence and the ones that remained in the hall became Jo Minjoon and Kaya. The candle dropped melted wax and lit the table, and the side of the kitchen was deep in the dark with its lights turned off. Kaya saw at the space between the not properly closed door and said.
“It seems like the lights went off.”
“If you are talking about the kitchen, it did go off.”
“……..No, that’s not it. I’m talking about me. My front road. My life has always been like that. It was even difficult to look at tomorrow. No, there was one certain thing. Tomorrow wasn’t going to be that different to today. I thought that after I came to Grand Chef I became able to see the light, but I can’t see it again. Minjoon.”
Kaya turned her head. Every time the fire flickered, the shadow of her face also flickered. However, her eyes didn’t. Nor her voice. She said with a voice filled with more confidence than ever.
“It seems like you were my lighthouse.”
Jo Minjoon didn’t say anything. It wasn’t because he had nothing to say, rather it was because the moment he heard those words, he felt it difficult to breathe. Because that was what he thought of Kaya. No, precisely speaking, Kaya wasn’t simply the one who brightened the road.
Kaya’s road was also the one he wanted to walk on, and the dishes she made were also the ones he wanted to make. She was the object of that happiness, character, and adoration. Just looking at her made him difficult to breathe, but because of that, he could struggle even more because of the sense of loss.
That Kaya had said that he was her lighthouse. Those words…….if he said that it felt warmer than the praises and encouragement of the judges of the judges, would it be too excessive?
“……I was your lighthouse.”
“Every time it was difficult, you were next to me. You even taught me what should I do….. You even blocked the paths that were wrong. Most of all, you sustained me so my heart didn’t collapse. Thank you. When you left, I thought that I wouldn’t be able to say these things to you ever……That’s why I’m telling you this. And I’m not doing it twice.”
He wanted to tell her that she also was his lighthouse. That she was still a lighthouse for him. However, those words didn’t come out as easily. Jo Minjoon whispered many words that couldn’t even be heard with his lips half opened, and it closely shut. Kaya slightly tilted her head.
“What is it? Why did you stop in the middle of saying something?”
“It’s nothing. I just have nothing to say.”
To say those words, he felt really miserable right now. Because however he wrapped it up, it was still his loss. He wanted to say these words for when he reached the end of his road. Kaya laughed brightly. It was a girly smile that suited to someone her age.
“Even without you, will I be able to find the path?”
Jo Minjoon said with a soft voice.
“I’m not a lighthouse.”
“……That’s not something for you to judge. At least for me, you were a lighthouse.”
“No. That’s not true Kaya. Even if I wasn’t here, you would still have been able to find the path. And you would have proved yourself just how excellent of a chef the person named Kaya Lotus is. You would think that you have lived your life without any meaning, but that was a struggle. It was a war that would have been difficult for normal people to survive. And you have done it. Your sister, she smiled quite prettily. You protected her so she could laugh like that.”
Kaya’s face became stifled. Did she have to get moved by it, or have to deny it. It was an expression that even she didn’t know about.
“And you shone, to the point that you didn’t shine your own path, but also for the others. That’s why I can’t become that lighthouse. There’s nothing more meaningless than my lighthouse. So Kaya…..don’t think that the reason you could climb all the way up to here is because you relied on me. It was all your own strength. Cooking, fighting and surviving, and enduring the scars. I just….. I was only the mirror that was next to you. The mirror that momentarily reflected your light.”
“Why do you lower yourself that much? I……”
Her voice trembled. This was the first time that she got so dizzy even while getting praised. Kaya opened her eyes fiercely and said. It was ironical, but he thought that those fierce eyes was just her gentleness.
“……Fine. I won’t say that I climbed all the way here because of you. Because my two feet are clearly fine. However, you grabbed my hands at the front. You pushed and pulled me. Why do you say as if that was nothing?”
“So you can win the last battle.”
Jo Minjoon replied with a plain voice. It is different to before. The contents of the finals, and the process she walked. That’s why he could only be anxious. He did trust in Kaya…… But he hoped that she wouldn’t lose something that she should have gotten because of him.
“Anderson is strong, but I’m not saying that you are weaker than him. I’m just saying this. It’s not enough being the Kaya Lotus that survived until now by relying on Jo Minjoon. You have to be the Kaya Lotus that can stand on her own to beat Anderson. Because Anderson also came all the way here by his own. So……..”
“I don’t want to.”
Kaya replied shortly. It was an expression that she had gotten hurt. Her eyes seemed teary, and her face was red perhaps because of the candle light or because blood gathered on her face. Kaya clenched her fist. Beneath the fist that couldn’t be seen by Jo Minjoon, there was countless emotions. And she wasn’t planning on opening her fist.
“Surviving by grabbing your hands is even more amazing than having survived on my own. It is amazing that I could grab that hand of yours! At least, it’s like that for me. So don’t prolong this talk when I’m grateful towards you. At least you……I would like it if at least you weren’t that way.”
She did understand the words Jo Minjoon was trying to tell her. It was so with her head. However, her heart couldn’t be that way. Kaya stood up from her seat.
“I will win. Whatever me it is, I will definitely beat Anderson. So just don’t think about those useless things. Just……”
As her voice got wet, in the end she could only shut her mouth. The words she wanted to say after that kept roaming silently in her heart. Kaya said with a dispirited voice.
“I want to sleep. See you tomorrow.”
Kaya left. Jo Minjoon just looked at the candle with an expression you couldn’t know. The sound of the footsteps kept getting farther. Was he expecting for those steps to come back? When he couldn’t hear anything, the sigh that came out of his mouth turned the candle off.
The fire of the candle died, but the weight of the sigh couldn’t be forgotten so easily.
< Arbitration expenses (2) > End
Translator’s note: Thanks for reading!
PR Note: Flaaaaaaag!
Translator : Subak
Proofreader : Saihikawa