Chief Kim and Assistant manager Choi

Chapter 22

Chapter 22: Chapter 22.

Chapter 22.

Shin Kim never dreamt that their first date would take place in Woojin’s home. When he got the message from Woojin, Shin froze for a few minutes.

He was expecting normal dates, like going to the movies, eating out, or having coffee at a pretty café. He imagined he would drive Woojin home at the end of their dates, and the most he’d get would be a passionate kiss.

At least for a while till they got to know each other better.

Even Siwoo told Shin not to expect too much from the dates for a long time.

Siwoo explained, “Just go out and have fun. A normal average date. Nowadays, it’s not hard for men to have a good time with other men. Have you been to popular cafes lately? They are filled with gay people.”

Siwoo laughed at Shin like he was having a grand time. So since Saturday morning, Shin had been researching to find which movies to watch. He also made a reservation at the Japanese restaurant where he got Woojin a bowl of abalone rice porridge.

This Japanese restaurant in Chungdam had a very limited number of tables so a reservation was a must. Shin noticed that Woojin liked bland food, so he thought a Japanese restaurant would be the safest choice. They had a few lunches together, and Shin knew what kind of food Woojin liked. Woojin didn’t seem to have a favorite food, but he clearly did not like salty or spicy food.

Siwoo offered, “Why don’t you bring him to Joowan’s restaurant next time?”

“But Chef Kim hates me.”

“He would love it if you go with your date. He doesn’t like you because he thinks you have a thing for me. He said he didn’t trust you with me, and you know what? That idiot was right! You do like men!”

That night when Siwoo and Shin drank together, Siwoo sent a text to Joowan telling him that Shin became gay. Joowan immediately called Siwoo and angrily asked if Shin confessed his feelings for Siwoo. Joowan was yelling so loudly that even Shin, who was sitting across from Siwoo, could hear it. Siwoo laughed at both of them.

It was surprising to Shin that Siwoo had been dating this same guy, Chef Joowan Kim, for over a year. In Korea, people could be very judgemental and nosy. Everyone was expected to be dating, and for someone who was still in the closet like Siwoo, it was very difficult to maintain a steady, long term relationship. Siwoo was often hounded by his friends and family to introduce them to his nonexistent girlfriend.

Siwoo hated this kind of attention. For the longest time, he only had short-term relationships with different men. After Siwoo’s father found out about him, Shin became worried about Siwoo, who went out with any man that showed even the slightest interest. Shin was worried that Siwoo might get hurt.

Shin asked, “I see that you have been dating him for a long time now.”

“Joowan is a good guy. He is also really good at sex.”

“… That’s too much information.”

Shin wondered about a long-term relationship. One good thing about a shallow relationship was the fact that you didn’t have to know everything about the person. If there were things you didn’t want to know or didn’t like about that person, you could just ignore them and pretend they didn’t exist.

But Shin was curious about Woojin. He WANTED to know everything about Woojin. Shin loved how only he got to see the secret REAL side of Woojin.

Only him and no one else.

Siwoo said to Shin, “It’s like that for everyone at the beginning.”

“What is?”

“At the beginning of anything, like relationships, studying, or sports, it’s really fun. Learning about it, getting to know more about it, hoping that you will get really good at it… that’s how everyone starts out.”

Siwoo smiled bitterly and continued, “But after a little while, you lose interest. After you learn a little bit about it, you feel like you know enough. And you realize that you aren’t learning as fast, and you begin to worry that you will never get better. You work hard for it, yet it seems like it’s hopeless.”


“And so people give up. Studying, work, and even on other people. The funny thing is, however, the more you put effort into it doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you will get better. The result is definitely NOT proportional to the amount of work you do, whether it’s studying, work, or a relationship. And when this happens, you just need to relax and let things happen as they will. If it doesn’t work, just let it go.”

“Everyone knows that, but it’s impossible to follow that rule.”

Shin could understand what Siwoo was trying to say, but he also had difficulty agreeing with it. But as he shopped at the grocery store for Woojin, Shin couldn’t stop thinking about him. And when he saw Woojin standing there looking vulnerable in his own apartment, Shin forgot everything. All Shin could feel was something inside of him crumbling down.

It wasn’t lust. It was… something else.

Shin continued to stock the fridge as he turned around and asked Woojin, “Is there something you would like to eat?” Woojin was sitting quietly on the sofa. He seemed contemplative before he finally answered with another question, “Did you eat breakfast?”

“Yes, around 9 AM.”

“Then maybe we can eat what you, S-Shin, would like…”

Woojin seemed hesitant, and the way he called Shin by his first name sounded awkward. They were outside of work, so Woojin seemed unsure of addressing Shin so formally.

Shin finally stood up and walked to Woojin. He sat down next to Woojin and asked, “Why didn’t you answer my texts yesterday?”


“I knew you were busy, but I was still a bit worried.”

“… I’m just not used to this.”

It wasn’t that Shin was texting or calling because he expected an answer, but Shin found himself waiting for Woojin to reply. On the other hand, Shin felt like he could understand Woojin’s side as well.

Based on Shin’s observation, Woojin lacked basic social skills. Woojin seemed to feel awkward being around people in general. Shin stroked Woojin’s hair gently and asked, “Well, next time, maybe you will just call me even for a second so I can hear your voice.”

Woojin looked down, and the way his long eyebrows shadowed his eyes looked very seductive.

This was dangerous.

If their eyes met, Shin would have to kiss him again, and that could be a bad idea.

Shin asked, “By the way, why do you have all the curtains and blinds down? Isn’t it too dark in here?”


Woojin’s home had a double-floor plan. The first floor consisted of one room and a living room. In the living room, there was a large television encased by a big bookcase, which was filled with an enormous number of books. It was a four-level shelved bookcase, and the bottom shelf was packed with DVDs. When Shin stood up, Woojin held onto his wrist and followed him.

Shin looked down, thinking how adorable Woojin was, holding onto his wrist. He patted Woojin’s hair, and suddenly, Woojin’s expression turned confused. Shin assumed it was because Woojin felt shy.

Trying to carry a conversation, Shin asked about the books, “It’s impressive. Last time I was here, I didn’t notice because it was at night.”

“It’s just a hobby. I like to collect them.”

“Oh, so you do have something you like, Woojin?”

When Shin called him by his first name, Woojin Choi’s face became red. Shin continued, “Why are you blushing? You were the one who first called me Shin, right?”

“… Oh… well…”

“By the way, can I ask you how old you are, Assistant Manager?”


“You just look really young. I assumed that you must be younger than me.”

Shin caressed Woojin’s cheek. He already knew how old Woojin was; he’d seen Woojin’s birthdate on the company intranet. Woojin was two years older than him, and Shin knew that but Shin still wanted to hear it from Woojin’s lips.

When their eyes met, Woojin finally answered, “30.”

“I’m 28 years old. Did you know that?”


“Oh, you knew that, didn’t you?”

Shin smooshed Woojin’s cheeks with his hands and Woojin frowned. Even his serious frown looked cute. When Shin stared at him for a long time, Woojin blushed again and looked away.

“Woojin Choi.”

When Shin called him by his full name, Woojin looked at him with wide eyes. Recently, Shin got to see many different expressions from Woojin, and he loved it. Why did people at work call Woojin, “The Mannequin?” Woojin was so expressive, which made this nickname sound ridiculous.

Shin asked, “Can I have a look at the books? And after we eat, let’s watch a movie.”


When Shin looked down at Woojin with a smile, Woojin nodded. His neck was turning red, so Shin looked away towards the bookcase. It only took a second for a man to turn into a beast. They were in a small space and because of the thick curtains, it was quite dark. It wasn’t that Shin didn’t want things to happen, but he didn’t want it to happen too fast too quickly.

Strangely, Shin wanted things to go slow with Woojin. Siwoo Jung laughed at him for it, but Shin couldn’t help how he felt. He wanted to stretch their time out as long as possible.

He asked Woojin, “What should we watch? Should we pick the movie before we eat?”


“What genre do you like?”

Shin got closer to the bookcase and studied the books. It was filled with various books and DVDs, but Shin noticed that there weren’t any photos or photo albums.

In fact, there were no photos anywhere in the house. While Woojin looked at the DVDs to pick, Shin looked around the living room. There was one sofa, which could turn into a bed, a canvas chair, a small table, a television, and a bookcase. That was it. Shin remembered that in Woojin’s bedroom, there was only a bed, a mirror, and a small drawer.

Shin asked, “Do you have the rest of your things at your parents’ home? Like the albums and photos?”

“… My parents’?”

“Yes. I just noticed that you don’t have any photos or photo albums here. I wanted to see childhood pictures of you.”

Suddenly, Woojin’s face crumpled into a strange expression. This was the second time. Something seemed off. When Shin looked at him in confusion, Woojin simply handed him a DVD and asked, “Have you watched this before?”


Shin took the DVD and wondered if Woojin had an unhappy relationship with his parents. Woojin’s face returned to normal quickly, but there was still a tinge of misery to him. It was very similar to the darkness Siwoo had, but slightly different.

Shin answered, “No, I haven’t seen this before. Should we watch this while we eat lunch?”


The movie Woojin picked was titled “Branded to Kill.” Shin placed the DVD on the table. He was a little worried about Woojin, but he didn’t think too much about it.

When Shin walked to the kitchen, Woojin slowly followed him. Shin felt Woojin’s hand, which was cool, gently holding onto his hand. Shin vaguely thought that he liked the cool temperature of Woojin’s skin.

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