Chapter 119

Dojin opened his eyes and woke up while scratching his bushy hair. He saw his mom boiling soup as he came out from the restroom after washing his face.

“Doenjang soup?”

“Yeah.”

He put on his clothes as he sniffed the savory smell and placed the script that he was reading until last night into his backpack together with the candies that his dad always brought home.

“Will you be late today too?”

“I think so, don’t worry about it, Madam Lee.”

“You should try being a parent too, that’s not as easy as it sounds. Make sure to call me if you’re going to be really late.”

His mom yawned as she went back into her room. Dojin mixed a bowl of rice with the Doenjang soup and placed a fried egg on top. The yolk of the over-easy egg popped open when he poked at it. As expected, it’s good. Dojin made a satisfied smile and brought his bowl in front of the TV. He powered it on and turned it to the news channel.

Just a few months ago, Dojin watched the game channels while eating breakfast. His day usually started by watching the highlights of big games.

However, his life pattern changed after meeting Maru and Daemyung. Those two friends had already stepped into society despite being the same age as him. People had expectations for them and they worked hard to meet those expectations. It was the world of adults.

The reason he started to watch the news was influenced by Daemyung more so than Maru. The guy that used to play games together with him until midnight no longer appeared online. When Dojin asked him what he was doing, almost every time the reply was ‘thinking about acting-related stuff’.

Whenever Dojin heard those words, he felt pathetic. It wasn’t that games were bad. Even now, he thought of them as an outstanding source of leisure. However, when he looked back at his life, he played games to the point where they could no longer be called leisure.

Dojin wasn’t like adults who were old-fashioned and thought that games were a waste of time, but he did realize that it had to be done in moderation. Although he knew not to spend too much time on games, he didn’t know what else to do. He tried to read books like Maru, but could never concentrate. He felt exhausted just from looking at the words that were closely packed together, so he simply gave up. While he was thinking about something else to do that was adult-like, he heard Daemyung talk about current affairs.

That’s right, it was the news. If it was the TV, he could watch without being tired of it.

This was how he first encountered the news. It started with a childish reason, but it didn’t matter. The fact that he was doing something adult-like with his two friends made him feel relieved.

“Are you watching the news?”

Dojin nodded at his dad, who had just come back from hiking. He could feel his dad look at him in a satisfied manner. It was definitely different; when he watched game channels, his dad would go to the restroom without saying anything, but now that he watched the news?

He started to make conversations about current events and politics. His dad seemed like a character from Romance of the Three Kingdoms, as he spoke about the different congressmen with difficult to understand words. It appeared that being able to have such conversations pleased him. Dojin’s interest in the adult world grew after seeing his dad’s changes and he hoped that he would one day become the real deal like his two friends.

“I’ll be back.”

“Okay, be careful.”

Dojin said goodbye to his dad and left the house. Even as he walked, he was thinking if it was a good use of his time. He felt as if it were a meaningless struggle to try and catch up to his friends when he lacked the abilities, but it was too late to go back to the way he previously was. Dojin knew that he would become a member of society eventually, but he never would’ve imagined being concerned about it this early. Rather than being envious about his friends who went on ahead, he felt burdened by himself who stayed at the same place every day.

Dojin stepped on the bus and weaved in between the students who had uniforms on. When he took the bus in the morning, he sometimes felt like a college student, because Woosung High didn’t have a uniform.

“I looted an OP item yesterday.”

‘Really? Then help carry me.”

“Okay.”

A nostalgic conversation entered his ears. These kinds of conversations used to be normal to him, but he couldn’t mention the letter ‘g’ from game in front of Maru and Daemyung, because they didn’t play any games.

“Yes, yes, I’ll get a confirmation. Yes, I’ll let you know after speaking with team leader Lee.”

A man that was in his thirties had a suit on as he spoke on the phone. His speech that showed perseverance as he finished the call looked cool to Dojin.

Suddenly, he thought of Maru and the incident that completely turned the school over on its head this time. 4 transfers and 7 expulsions. Although the teachers kept quiet about it, rumors spread as if somebody went around talking about it. Some kids that were being bullied hired a lawyer and got their revenge. The lawyer was such an incredible person that even the chairman couldn’t speak up. On top of that, the kids who were outcast were exercising in the gym and were definitely different from how they were in the past. There were several similar rumors.

Nobody knew that Maru was the person behind the incident. Dojin once again realized that he was the real deal. In between the gaps of the law, the lawyer, and the chairman, he solved the problem beautifully with the identity of a student. Although the one who showed off the most power was the lawyer, the person who orchestrated it was Maru. Even after doing something as amazing as that, Maru never showed it. Rather than brag about it, he was instead glad that there were no rumors involving him. Dojin grew restless when he thought about how relieved Maru had been because it didn’t bring harm to the acting club.

Everybody around him was moving forward. Geunseok, Maru, and Daemyung, they had all been recognized and were guaranteed universities. It wasn’t limited to universities, once they showed their talent, they’ll be able to step into the acting world and the world of celebrities.

Similarly, Iseul, who was firm on taking over the rice soup restaurant and showed happiness whenever she talked about the owner who provided meat, was a full-fledged adult.

All the members of the acting club seemed to have clear goals and were making big strides towards them, even the ones who didn’t seem to possess something special.

Dojin could only sigh whenever he thought about them. He wanted to aim for something further than studying, something more special.

He looked at the back of the man who ended his call and left the bus. The others will probably become like him.

Dojin exited the bus and walked towards Woosung High. It’s going to be practice today too after school. These days, Dojin had felt that even practice wasn’t that enjoyable. It was worth practicing when coach Miso gave him advice, but nowadays, she was always quiet. He wondered if she stopped caring or if he was so bad that he wasn’t even worth criticizing. At least up until two months ago, he could imagine a scenario from the script, but these days, everything was blurry.

“Hey, we’re going to be late, let’s run.”

He ran with a classmate that he met on the road and barely made it in time.

“How come you’re never online these days? Is the acting club that busy?”

“Something like that. Bastard, make sure to loot a lot of items. I’ll help you by taking them from you when I return.”

“Get lost, I’m not giving you anything.“

A normal conversation; it was a situation where he was supposed to be laughing, but he had a dry expression instead. This isn’t the time to be playing games, my friend. He opened the rear door and went into the classroom. Maru was seen bent over sleeping. He’s sleeping in the morning, that’s unusual. Maru was somebody who only slept during lunchtime, as if it was scheduled.

“You’re here?”

Maru woke up at the sound of the chair being pulled out. He yawned while stretching, but his face was no joke. His hair was bushy as if there had been a bird that sat on it and his face seemed like a person who didn’t get sleep for several days. It was accompanied by dim eyes that were typically hard to see from Maru.

“Did you stay up overnight?”

“I had something to do, I drove down from Seoul at dawn.”

Yawn.

“Seoul?”

Dojin went through his bag and took out mint candy. If it was any other day, it would’ve been plum candy, but mint seemed appropriate today.

“Thank you, my mouth was feeling a bit stale.“

“Why did you go to Seoul?”

“Some elder summoned me, ha.”

Maru suddenly started to laugh.

“I went to get some life counseling.”

“You? Counseling?”

“Yeah.”

“……..”

To think that Maru would get advice from somebody. That’s new. Maru had always been somebody who gave out advice, rather than receive them.

“What do you mean by life counseling?”

Dojin was curious about the worries that Maru had. They’re probably something that I can’t even imagine.

However, the words that came out of Maru were completely different from what he expected.

“It was about how a man should meet a good woman, and how if you listen to adults, you’ll profit even in your sleep.”

“Huh?”

“I’m going to sleep again, wake me up if the teacher comes.”

“Y-yeah”.

What should I say?

The Maru who made a hearty laugh just now was like a completely different person. Should I say he seemed a bit less serious? He even seemed a little childish. If he had to describe it…

“Hey hey! Give me your phone, let me play some games.”

“Fuck off, I’m out of batteries.”

He looked similar to the immature kids who were laughing and chatting in the front. It was only for a moment, but from that short moment, that was the feeling that he gave off.

What was that?

“Hey, Dojin.”

A girl called out to him when he pulled out his chair to get some sleep. He turned his head to the rear door and saw Iseul standing there with a smile.

“Huh?”

Why’s she here? Dojin was at a loss for words.

“Come to the club room.”

She disappeared after leaving those words.

And then.

“Dojin~!”

“Who was that? She was super cute.”

“I think it’s better to say that she’s pretty, is she in the acting club too? Huh?”

The kids came over in hoards. Dojin squeezed by his friends and went up to the club room. When he arrived, he knew why Iseul had looked for him.

Dojin opened the door and went inside.

“Is it for the observation?”

“Bingo, it’s a different class so it’s hard to make time, right? It’s hard to see them when we’re at the auditorium because we need to practice too.”

“So what do you want to do here?”

“What do you mean what, we’re going to talk. You can’t just stare at them as if you’re checking the freshness of meat.”

Dojin sat on the floor while scratching his head. It’s been a while since he was last in the club room, there was no reason to go to the club room since they usually practiced in the auditorium. It was an area that was more fit to be called the storage room rather than the club room. The faded stage costumes looked different today.

“And we need to see something fun too.”

“Something fun?“

“You know that Taejoon likes Soyeon right?”

“Yeah.”

“Hoo hoo, they’re talking in the auditorium right now. It’s going to be awkward if I get caught peeking by myself, so let’s go together.”

She spoke as she grabbed Dojin’s arm. Dojin became startled because she suddenly became so close. It was abrupt, but she really was cute.

“Ah, speaking of which, do you have time this Sunday?”

“This weekend? Why?”

“Let’s hang out at my house, I don’t think Taejoon and Soyeon will make any progress like that. Let’s all meet and then leave those two alone by themselves. Doesn’t that sound fun?”

She made a bright smile.

Dojin was speechless; it was like looking at a fox.

She’s a total kid.

The Iseul in his memories was a wonderful girl who led a family business, but after seeing her today, she was just a normal kid who loved to mess with her friends. Of course, her looks weren’t normal.

Maru and now her, what’s happening.

All of a sudden, the childish, yet serious concerns that he had just earlier in the morning felt meaningless. However, even these feelings disappeared quickly, as Iseul crossed his arms with hers and pulled.

“They might leave soon, let’s hurry up.”

“Oh, yeah.”

Her hair fluttered as she spun around.

Dojin took a note mentally.

Kim Iseul, she’ll do anything to have fun. Also, she’s cute.

***

It was something that he often felt, but his body became a lot healthier after being reborn. His reaction times, as well as physical capabilities, were also noticeably better than his previous life. In most cases, he wouldn’t feel tired, and even if he did overwork himself, he felt refreshed by the next day.

However, even this upgraded body couldn’t handle drinking until 4 in the morning. How nice would it be if I had an ability that could expel the alcohol out of my body like in those martial arts novels?

But I’m still better than the coach.

His coach said that he would never drive while being drowsy and dowsed himself in cold water. This was during the middle of the winter. Thanks to that, they safely arrived at school, but Maru felt bad when he saw the coach shivering in the car.

I should get him a pack of herb medicine later.

A rowdy classroom.

It was the same area as always, but it felt especially affectionate today. Before, he wouldn’t take a single step from his seat that was in the 4th row and only talk to Dojin. It might’ve been because he was prejudiced with the thought that everybody else was childish and that there would be nothing to gain from talking with them. However, after listening to the advice Moonjoong gave, he joined the other kids and talked amongst them. Although there were many topics that he couldn’t follow, he still laughed and talked.

-It’s your life, but Maru is nowhere to be found.

It was a voice that pierced the brain.

A voice which said that he was watching his life as if it were a scenery.

I neglected the Maru who was a high school student too much.

I took the age of my physical body too lightly.

I acted as if I carried the concerns of the entire world.

-I can be the one to bring food to the table.

He recalled her confident voice.

He started to laugh again. It seemed like he would be laughing without rest for a few days. He hoped that he wouldn’t be mistaken as insane.

Jump in.

Maru took out his script and held it. Until yesterday, he looked at everything that was acting related as if it were his homework, but now it was different.

Nobody was telling him to do it; he wanted to do it of his own accord.

He pushed back his fears.

If the monster called acting swallowed him, he would think about it then. If it was hard for him to escape, he just needed to borrow her strength.

He remembered the spicy palm that would fly at him whenever he thought about weird things. As long as he had the palm that slapped his back, he was sure that he could wake up.

“Daemyung.”

“Huh?”

“Let’s do some reading.“

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ensj's Thoughts

These chapters were translated by Eunc, while ensj was out on personal business.