Byungsoo’s jaws hurt like hell. He thought back to the boxing trainer who punched him with incredible strength with those mitts. The old man had so much strength behind him, despite having such a beer belly.
‘This pain will help though, I’m sure.’
It really did feel like he was starting to gain confidence. Right then, he thought of something that the trainer told him, which made him grin like a kid.
[You know those chairs in class? If things go badly for you, just grab one of those. Don’t actually swing it, obviously. If you actually hit someone with that thing, things might actually get fucked for you. Just grab it and glare, it should work about once. Also, start exercising from now on. The confidence of a man scales directly with his muscle mass. Throw those computer game things out for a while. If you have the time to move that mouse of yours, you have time to lift dumbbells instead. Exercise only gives back to those who really try hard.]
Byungsoo turned off the computer and started doing pushups, his arms started trembling after he did just five. Even so, he gritted his teeth and did one more. The feeling of satisfaction started spreading in his chest.
* * *
“That fucker’s been glaring every once a while.”
Changhu licked his lips, thinking of the idiot he’s been bullying recently. In the grand scheme of things, nothing changed. The idiot still gave him money when he asked for it, but something was off. The idiot has started talking back to him.
Stuff like ‘when will you pay me back?’ or ‘can you stop already?’ Even when Changhu beat the kid up, the idiot kept parroting the words at him.
“His defense points probably went up after getting beat up so much, hah!”
“Haha, is this a video game or something?”
Changhu laughed his worries away just like that, these idiots couldn’t do anything to him anyway. The best they could do was to tell the teacher, but Changhu was long prepared for that outcome.
‘I’ve been acting pretty well all this time.’
He didn’t do anything that would lower the teachers’ opinion of him. He never got caught smoking, he had never been caught beating someone up, he would always greet his teachers, and he took good care of his grades. On the outside, he was a perfect student. If an issue occurred about him in the future, he should just be able to pass it off as a simple misunderstanding. All of this was something he learned from his senior that went to a different engineering school.
According to his senior, the man earned himself around eight million won just by beating kids. He graduated safely despite that and is currently going to a college inside Seoul. Changhu looked up to that senior as his role model.
Right then, one of his friends ran into the class with a surprised expression. Changhu greeted him with a smile.
“What, you got caught doing something bad again?”
“N-No! It’s not that!”
This friend of his liked to overreact a lot, so Changhu didn’t pay much attention to it. But his friend’s face only got paler by the second, only then did he realize something was wrong.
“What? What happened?”
“Jungsoo got called away.”
There were a lot of students who got dragged away to the faculty offices. Jungsoo was one of the stupider kids, so he got dragged away to the faculty office every other day. The fact that the kid got dragged away wasn’t even news.
“He didn’t get called for just a beating!”
“They’re opening some mitige- mitiga- some big meeting. Everyone’s getting taken away!”
Right then, their homeroom teacher burst in through the door. The man literally punched the door open hard enough to make it creak a little bit as he walked in.
“You! You! You! And you! Follow me!”
The man’s cue stick was pointed at Changhu, Changhu finally clued in on was happening. He didn’t know what this meeting thing was about, but it looked like the idiots finally told on him. The homeroom teacher walked out with a frown. Taking that as a sign, Changhu walked right up to Gijung.
“Was it you?”
No response. That in itself was good enough as an answer, this kid was the culprit. Changhu raised his hand, and punched the back of the boy’s head. The entire class quieted down, but Changhu didn’t care about that right now.
“I asked you a question, you fuck.”
“God fucking damn, did you really?”
His friends came over to surround Gijung as well. Changhu thought he’s been taking good care of this idiot recently, to think he would get blindsided like this… he could only laugh.
“So an idiot manages to get a hit on me, finally. But oh dear, I’ll probably get away scott-free anyway.”
Changhu grabbed Gijung by the collars and lifted the boy up.
“Good job for mustering courage, idiot. We’ll be having a private meeting after this, though.”
Changhu threw Gijung back on the chair, which made the boy fall back loudly.
“You can’t even fight back, so how dare you backstab me like this? I’ll show you that little bit of courage you showed was a mistake.”
Changhu could only laugh. These were all trash in the end who couldn’t even fight him, they should’ve just focused on their studies instead. Then again, what could he even expect from these insects? They couldn’t even play, nor could they even study. They all had a reason for being bullied, really. That’s all they were good for in the end.
“...Yeah, I’ll see you later.”
He heard that voice come from behind him just as he was about to go outside. Changhu thought he heard wrong, but the voice was much too clear to just be a figment of his imagination. Behind him, Gijung was getting back up with a frown. There wasn’t any fighting spirit in the boy’s eyes, but there wasn’t fear, either.
Changhu realized something very quickly. This kid… wasn’t looking away from him.
“Hah, that fuck. He’s very funny.”
“Yeah, is he crazy, or what?”
His friends were all laughing, but Changhu wasn’t. He had a very bad feeling about all of this. The fact that the kid was different from before meant that the kid had someone to rely on. There was no reason for someone like that to change otherwise. Changhu knew very well that people didn’t change unless they were put in a corner, he knew this well from years of experience as a delinquent. After all, he didn’t really want to drive a person to suicide, either. That’d leave a bad taste in his mouth.
In that sense, Gijung was like all of the other idiots. The type that would go back to normal once he left the boy alone for a bit. But those eyes from before weren’t like the usual, the boy was clearly looking for a fight. He could see Gijung get back to his seat with a calm expression. Changhu thought about beating the boy up on the spot again, but gave up. Something was very wrong right now.
Changhu, after walking outside into the hallway, looked into the class through the windows. He could see Gijung trembling inside, the boy was scared of him for sure. So where did that boy’s confidence come from, just now?
Right then, he noticed Gijung looking to the back of the class. Changhu turned to look at where the boy was looking. And there… He could see Maru yawning.
‘Could it be?’
“Changhu, let’s go. We don’t want the teacher getting mad at us even more.”
For now, Changhu decided to go up to the faculty office. He did wonder, though. Did Maru get involved with this somehow? No, the boy had no reason to. Was it because of the money?
‘No, no way. I’m just assuming things too much. This is just going to be another one of those small things.’
But when Changhu entered the faculty office, he realized that this wasn’t going to be like “another one of those small things”. Especially with that amount of paperwork he saw on the table.
That was the first thing that came out of the teacher’s mouth.
* * *
“It starts today.”
The kids all nodded at Maru’s words. Byungsoo could feel his heart beat. It’s finally begun. They couldn’t take any of this back now. They drew their swords, and someone was going to go down, no matter who it was. Now, it was time for them to lay low, and make sure they wouldn’t get hurt themselves.
“You guys probably met one on one with the teachers at this point. Like I said before, you guys should just say the stuff that’s happened to you without any exaggeration. Even if the teacher keeps telling you that you’re just making stuff up, you have to keep denying them. Just keep parroting the truth. The disciplinary teacher’s also gotten selected to be in the mitigation meeting. The board members for this one are going to be chosen by the principal, so I can’t do anything here. You guys are on your own from here.”
“I did exactly what you said.”
“The disciplinary teacher kept trying to scare me, but thanks to the boxing trainer, he wasn’t scary at all.”
Byungsoo noticed small smiles appearing on his friends’ expressions. He could feel a deep sense of gratitude flowing up towards the trainer on the inside, their trainer was trying to help all of them earnestly. Thanks to that, Byungsoo got pretty bad muscle aches, but he did attain confidence through it.
“I’d look pretty pathetic for being proud of this, but I managed to talk back at Changhu today,” a boy named Gijung spoke up.
Everyone in the room gave the boy a thumbs up, this was definitely an improvement for all of them.
“They got the complaints from the victims, so they’ll hear the story from the bullies’ side of things. You saw them getting dragged away, didn’t you? After that, they’ll set up a meeting for both sides, and then they’ll come up with a punishment for the bullies.”
“By a meeting… you mean we’ll have to be in the same room as them?” one of the kids asked.
Maru shook his head.
“It’s normal to call both sides one by one. If they put all of you in the same room, just complain right there and then. This is your right.”
“And like I said in the beginning, I can’t help you anymore from here. I can always talk to you, but I’m not going to reveal that I’m connected to this at all. You should all know the reason why at this point, right?”
“We’re happy with all you’ve done for us already.”
“We’ll… take it from here.”
Maru nodded. He’s already explained to the group about the reputation of the acting club. Byungsoo understood as well. If Maru were to be found out for helping them, the acting club might end up getting in trouble. Honestly, the boy’s already done more than enough for the group.
“Focus. All the way up until the meeting ends.”
“Your classmates will start treating you differently from now as well, I hope you can take care of that as well. Remember what the trainer said?”
“People don’t hit sandbags that can fight back,” Byungsoo said.
It was something that the trainer liked to always talk about.
[You guys are sandbags. You can’t just turn into someone who’s good at fighting overnight. But! You can turn into thorny sandbags at the very least. That’s where we’ll start.]
“You guys worked hard. But it’s still not over yet, so don’t let your guard down.”
Maru extended his hand forward. The others all put their hands over his and said a quiet “fighting” under their breaths.Previous Chapter Next Chapter