Chapter 100

“Leave.”

Dowook waved Maru away in the middle of walking together, Maru watched the boy walk to the bus station for a while before turning away. In a single day, a lot has happened. First off, he got a new assignment, amateur acting classes. He would attend the first meeting on Monday evening, at 8pm. Junmin really knew how to act once a decision was made. Maru got on the bus back home. As he watched the scenery pass through the window, the phone in his pocket vibrated.

[I’ll pay you back soon, so just wait.]

It was her. The message didn’t have much to it, but Maru smiled regardless. He immediately started typing out a reply.

[Try to pay me back on a weekend, if you can.]

The reply came a few minutes later.

[Why?]

[That way we can go on a date.]

Maru quickly stuck his phone back to his pocket. His phone started vibrating with new messages. Without even looking at it, Maru knew she was probably saying something along the lines of, ‘are you crazy?’ She’s really never changed at all. Once he got off the bus and came back home, his sister greeted him. Maru scanned his sister one more time.

“You really didn’t get hit?”

“I didn’t. I actually hit back, instead!”

Bada grinned, pointing at her wide forehead. Thank goodness she didn’t get hurt. She might be a tomboy, but she was still a girl.

“But besides that, was that boy your friend?”

“Dowook?”

“Mm, yeah.”

“Same class. The boy you hit is also in the same class, too.”

“What? Really? That asshole?”

Bada seemed to be thinking of what happened this morning, she frowned and huffed.

“Is that asshole your friend too?”

“No way.”

“He was soo bad. He’s a delinquent, right?”

“He’s childish. I didn’t think he would be that bad, though.”

“I was so surprised. He just pulled my arm out of nowhere.”

Bada started explaining what happened, just hearing what happened was starting to irk him more and more. At school, Changhu would never use his fists. He was a smart kid in school, after all.

‘No, maybe that’s not the case.’

There is trash out there that will resort to violence whenever women get involved. There were a lot of them, actually. Was Changhu also one of those budding abusers? Maru didn’t like to get involved as long as he wasn’t affected, but since he was involved this time around…

“Brother?”

Maru quickly wiped his frown away when he heard his sister’s voice, Bada was looking at him worriedly.

“What? You’re making me feel awkward.”

“No, you were...”

Bada stopped herself there and shook her head. Maru knew well that he didn’t have a particularly friendly-looking face. His resting face actually looked pretty scary, even. If you added a frown on top of that… It probably didn’t look good at all.

“Oh, right!”

Bada ran into her room, trying to change the atmosphere. She hesitated a little bit before handing Maru a box. It was something Maru saw earlier in the day. He knew there would be shoes inside, but he feigned ignorance.

“What’s this?”

“Present.”

“You should’ve spent that money on your clothes.”

“Don’t worry. I’m never buying you a gift again. I don’t know if it’d fit though. You were 270, right?”

Mm, it was actually 275. Maru didn’t say the truth though, and agreed with her for now. He tried taking the shoes out and put them on. The white sneakers were a bit tight, but he could still wear them.

“Thanks.”

“My friend recommended that one. It’s pretty, right?” “It is. I’ll wear it well.”

Maru put the shoes in the shoe closet and stepped back in his room. It was a busy day, but the day would end just like any of his other days. First, he would read the script for The People of Dalseok-dong. The quality of the line he said for the first time and the line he said for the thousandth time was very different. Keeping that in mind, Maru spoke his lines. Recently, he started trying to introduce different personality traits to his character. In the beginning, Maru portrayed the teenager as someone very cheery and playful. The script described the teenager like this as well.

“How about a cynical teenager, though?”

The teenager was the gateway between the audience and the stage. He would need to talk with Miso before changing the character, but he thought about it anyway. Ganghwan did tell him that analyzing such characters would be very useful. After reading the script for about an hour, Maru went to take a shower. He organized his thoughts in the shower and came back to his room to write a blog post. Recently, he started getting a bit nervous whenever he went to his blog. He was hoping to see a comment from her. To think he could be so happy over such a small thing… They’d have a very fun time if they started dating.

Even though she was adamant that they would stay friends for now.

“I guess I’ll really turn into a dad in the future.”

Same with his friends, too. Maru fiddled around with a CAD software for a short bit before taking out his schoolwork. He didn’t forget anything today, either. Looking at the time, it was midnight. He finished off the day by quickly checking some of the news online. He looked at his table for a moment before taking a long piece of plastic from his jacket. He got this from Junmin before they split up.

“Hope we can stay ‘friends’, Changhu.”

Maru put the piece of plastic back in his bag. He hoped that he wouldn’t have to use this in the near future.

* * *

“Hah.”

Changhu ran up to Maru as soon as he entered the classroom. Maru dodged the boy and quickly took his seat.

“Han Maru, you son...”

“Teacher’s coming.”

Changhu stepped back as soon as the teacher entered.

“Sit the hell down.”

Maru felt like the left side of his face was going to melt away or something during homeroom, Changhu glared at him nonstop.

“What’s that bastard doing?” Dojin asked.

“I don’t know. Maybe it’s puberty.”

Changhu was gritting his teeth, looking at Dojin and Maru repeatedly. The guy was probably looking for a fight the minute homeroom ended.

“Don’t get in trouble, and if you get caught with a cigarette, you better get ready to experience death. Got it?”

“Yes.”

The teacher headed out after lightly banging on the podium. As soon as the man left the room, Changhu stood up. Dowook did the same. Changhu’s friends started standing up as well, almost like domino pieces.

‘Oh dear.‘

What kind of a teenage drama was this? Maru shook his head. At times like this, he just had to set up an arena for them. Kids often became nervous if you started making an event much bigger than they intended it to be. The other students in the class started clearing up the middle of the classroom, realizing something was about to happen. One side looked on with excitement, while the other looked very worried. Maru decided to keep the latter group in his mind for now. They were probably kids who got bullied by Changhu.

“You guys fighting? Hey hey! Clear it up, clear it up! They need space to fight!”

Well, Maru might as well turn this into a big event. If he didn’t, Changhu’s gang really might go wild. For now, he needed to get the rest of the class on his side.

“Ooh, yeah. Let’s clear out the tables a bit.”

“Wait a bit, guys! Ya bro’s gonna make you an arena.”

Some of the kids who weren’t intimidated by Changhu stepped forward first. They moved the chairs away as they told Dowook, ‘don’t go for the face, guy’s a damn snitch’ with a grin. Changhu didn’t have many friends in this class, being a delinquent. Dowook, on the other hand, after turning over a new leaf in the middle of school year, had a lot of friends in the class. An arena was made in the middle of the class pretty quickly, Maru pretended to grab a chair near Dowook as he opened his mouth.

“Don’t actually fight.”

“Wasn’t planning to. There’s nothing good I’d get out of fighting someone like that. I would’ve murdered him outside school, though.”

“Nice.”

At this point, the one who was the most troubled by this was Changhu. Things were starting to look like this was going to turn into a one on one, and the other kids in the class were trying to make sure it would stay that way. In the end, Changhu was the one who gave in first.

“Hah, so immature. Are you guys in elementary school?”

He stepped outside along with his friends.

“That coward.”

“I bet he was counting on his friends.” “What a turd.”

The kids put the desks back with a grin. Nice. Maru decided to end the situation here. He took out a plastic stick from his bag, put it in his pocket, and stood up.

“Where are you going?” Dojin asked.

Maru didn’t answer. He still had 30 minutes left till classes started. Maru stepped out into the hallway and looked around.

‘There they are.’

He could see Changhu’s gang go down the stairs. There was a smaller kid following the group with his head down. Probably an unfortunate victim.

Maru started following them with light footsteps.

* * *

“We can just keep an eye on that Dowook bastard for now. The real problem is fucking Maru. Ugh.”

“Don’t get too angry, Changhu.”

“Me? Angry? Hah! Are you kidding? Angry? No way. I’m just annoyed. I just don’t like how that little brat’s acting. I’m not angry.”

“......”

Changhu felt a little bit better when his friends shut themselves up. Right, this was supposed to be what a normal response looked like. But Dowook and Maru just continued to get on his nerves.

“Hey.”

“Y-yeah?”

“Yeah my ass. What happened to the thing I asked of you from last time?”

Changhu pushed the brat in front of him to a wall. This was the idiot that one of his friends told him about last time, the rich kid who handed money like it was paper.

“Well...”

“Hey, didn’t I say I need to buy my textbooks? I’m trying to study here. A good cause, you know? So don’t make me speak too much. Let’s keep it short. Do you have the money?”

“...Yeah.”

The kid took out three ten thousand won bills.

“You’re doing good, so have some pride. It’s not like I’m bullying you for cash, so why act so scared?”

“Y-yeah.”

“By the way, you’re not going to do something retarded like tell on the teacher, are you? Just making sure.”

“Yeah...”

“Good, you’re a good friend. Let’s go to a karaoke next time, I’ll introduce you to some hot girls. Sounds good, right?”

Changhu stuffed the money into his pockets. Even in engineering schools, there were kids like these. As long as he took good care of them, he should have a pretty thick wallet throughout the rest of high school.

“Anyway, what do we do with Han Maru? I really think we should do something to the acting club if we want to fuck him over.”

He didn’t like Dojin either, anyway. The best way to screw over both of them was to mess with the club they were in. Especially from seeing how much the two cared about the club.

“Oh?”

Right then, one of his friends pointed to one side.

“Hah.”

It was Maru.

* * *

“Where’s Maru?”

Daemyung asked, coming back from the bathroom.

“Dunno.”

“Did he go to take a shit?”

“Dunno.”

Dojin got up from his seat. This was a little odd, it seemed like Maru followed Changhu outside.

“Daemyung, come with me for a second.”

Dojin started moving, remembering that the delinquents liked to hang behind the schools even during break time.

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