Chapter 133

Everyone has expectations. When the other party fails to meet those expectations, a person would not only feel disappointment, but also a little feeling of betrayal as well.

“It looks like things became like this because of me. I’m sorry.”

“No, it’s not that at all.”

Yoonjung waved her hands with a small smile.

“We did end up getting lazy. You weren’t the issue or anything here.”

Joonghyuk agreed. He was still staring at the doors Miso left through.

“Let’s go back for now. It’s too late. Ah, right. Which of you are going by bus, again? Daemyung, Dojin, Soyeon and Geunseok?”

Yoonjung spoke with a worried voice. It was already past midnight. At this rate, everyone would have to walk home.

“We can walk back home. It’s just 40 minutes.”

“Will you be okay?”

“Daemyung needs to lose weight anyway.”

Dojin wrapped his arm around Daemyung with a giant grin. Daemyung nodded with a pretty calm expression.

“It’s going to be cold, though.”

“We can run, then.”

Yoonjung was probably worried about the mid-December weather. The second years got together and spoke for a second. Moments later, Yoonjung called everyone over to her.

“Here.”

Yoonjung handed them four ten thousand won bills.

“Go back by taxi. Yurim and Geunseok can ride in one taxi. Daemyung and Dojin can ride in the other.”

“We’re fine.”

“It’s cold. You’re going to catch a cold. You really need to take care of yourselves. Plus, you guys sweated way too much. Trust me, with clothes like those right now, you’re going to freeze.”

Danmi took off her scarf to wrap it around Yurim. The girl tried to refuse the scarf at first, but eventually gave up resisting. Soyeon, Taejoon, and Iseul thankfully lived within walking distance to their homes. They usually got back home by bus, but they could easily walk it.

“Sorry. It’s all our fault.”

Yoonjung looked at the floor dejectedly. The weight of being president was probably bearing down on her.

“We’ll focus again tomorrow, so that instructor Miso won’t be disappointed. She doesn’t hold grudges, so we’ll be seeing each other with smiles on our faces tomorrow. Promise.”

Yoonjung often made herself seem a little childish, but she looked very much like a president right now. Maru listened to the girl as he calculated taxi fees inside his head. He was thinking of giving the kids a little more outside if they were a little short, but ten thousand per person should easily cover it.

“You guys go back first. We’ll stay back to clean things up.”

“We’ll help.”

“It’s fine, your parents must be worried. You should really go.”

Yoonjung dragged them out of the auditorium one by one. She waved at the club members with a smile before slowly closing the door on them.

“I feel sorry for them.”

“Yeah.”

It looked like everyone felt a lot from this experience, even Maru felt a little heavy.

[Do you guys think this is a joke?]

Perhaps Miso, their instructor, was taking the play far more seriously than the actors themselves. Looking back, the woman liked to use the word ‘definitely’ a lot. As light as the word seemed, it carried a lot of weight behind it. After all, the word indicated that something would get done no matter what.

The eight members walked down with a deep sigh. When the security guard found them and asked why they were leaving so late, they told the guard that there were still people upstairs.

“Still? It’s almost dawn now.”

The guard looked up at the stairs with wide eyes before going back to the security office.

“Yeah, it’s definitely late.”

“Holy moly, I just checked the phone and I got so many calls from my mom. I’m dead...”

Dojin paled as he stared at his phone. The others seemed to be in a similar situation, judging from their expressions. None of them had the time to check their phones since they were so busy with practice. Even if they had the time, they probably wouldn’t have been able to check it, given how angry Miso was.

“Call them first. They must be worried.”

“Of course.”

Everyone started calling their parents with their phones. In the meantime, Maru checked his phone as well. There was a single message.

[You’re late. Be quiet when you come inside.]

The end.

Maru’s mom had a very laissez-faire approach to raising her children. Honestly, Maru would appreciate it more if his mom would occasionally send him a text out of worry. He messaged her back, saying he was going back now. He knew that his mom was worrying about him despite writing a message like this. Parents tended to go to sleep nervously, despite knowing their children were safe. Maru knew that feeling well. Children just felt so fragile by themselves, no matter how old they were.

Once he looked up, he noticed that everyone had a frown on their faces, likely from the scoldings they received from their parents. What a day. First Miso managed to land several hits on them during training, then their parents basically scored a home run.

“I feel like my allowance is going to get a cut...”

“Congrats. You’ve jinxed yourself.”

“God damn it.”

They did seem to relax a little though at the prospect of going back home. They were stiffening up again at the prospect of seeing Miso tomorrow, but it’d be alright. Like Yoonjung said, Miso wasn’t the type who held grudges. As they stepped outside the building, they were greeted with four taxis waiting for them at the entrance.

“What the hell were you doing in there?! You guys don’t want to go back home?!”

Miso was shouting at them from next to her car. Maru let out a small laugh when he saw her. The other kids were still looking back and forth between the taxis and Miso with confused expressions. Maru stepped down first as the other kids stood dumbly from atop the stairs.

“You didn’t leave yet?”

“I knew the last bus left already, so of course not.”

“You know you’re breaking that terrifying image you built all day by doing this, right?”

“I know you guys aren’t idiots. I trust that you’d understand my intentions after a small scolding. Am I wrong?”

Maru could only shake his head.

“Where are the second years, by the way?”

“They’re cleaning up upstairs.”

“Hah, so they’re seniors, is that it?”

“They’re very good seniors, even gave us money to go back home.”

“Good lord. Look at those little things pretending to be adults.”

That being said, Miso was looking up at the fifth floor with a tiny smile.

“First years.”

“Y-yes!”

“Go back home. Just tell your parents that your instructor went way off the rails today and didn’t let you go. If there’s a problem, just call me. Got it?”

“...Yes.”

“The drivers are waiting. Get moving.”

Miso sent the seven kids off on their way. Three of the taxis left. Miso told the last driver to wait a second before stepping into the school. A little later, she stepped out dragging Yoonjung and Danmi by their arms, Joonghyuk and Minsung were following closely behind them. Miso stuffed the four of them into a taxi before asking the driver to leave.

“So you know where everyone lives.”

It looked like Miso had an idea of in which direction everyone lived.

“I’m your instructor, so why wouldn’t I? By the way, you commute by bike, right?”

“Yes.”

Right then, a strong wind blew. The type that really showed that it was winter. It felt like Maru’s skin would peel off from the harsh wind.

“How long does it take?”

“Not that long.”

“I don’t believe you. Give me a number.”

“...40 minutes?”

“Are you crazy?! In this weather?”

Miso shouted before grabbing Maru’s arm. Maru just stared at his bike from afar.

“Coming to school’s going to be annoying tomorrow without that, though.”

“So, you’re going to ride it?”

“I’m not going to die in this weather. I can do it.”

Unfortunately, that was exactly when a bit of snot dribbled down his nose. Miso narrowed her eyes at him.

“Get on.”

“.......”

“Want me to throw you in?”

“I get it, I’ll get in.”

Goodbye, my horse.

Maru gave his bike one last look before getting in the car. The heat from the car made him shiver a little when he stepped inside.

“Seriously, I can’t believe you thought about biking in this weather.”

“I heard people used to walk for several tens of kilometers for school during winter though.”

“We don’t live in those times anymore. Just put on your seatbelt already.”

Maru put on his seatbelt with a smile. The car exited the school and the two of them stopped talking for a second. Maru looked out the window for a bit before opening his mouth.

“Is there a different reason other than the fact that we were lazy?”

The dolls on the back mirror were shaking side by side. Miso glanced at Maru before opening her mouth.

“The part where I got angry?”

“Yeah.”

“Why do you think that?”

“Just a feeling. You scold us a lot, but you never put any personal feelings into it. You’re a professional, after all. But today was different. You seemed genuinely angry.”

“Did the other kids think the same?”

“No, it was just me.”

“.......”

Miso didn’t say anything for a while, an awkward silence flowed between them. Maru seemed to be right on the mark here. What else made Miso mad today? No matter what he thought, there weren’t many things that could’ve made her mad. That meant she was mad because of something else. But she was a pro. She wouldn’t take out her anger on the students.

That meant one thing. There was something bothering her immensely and it was about the acting club. What was it?

“Taesik, no, your teacher told me that the club might have to vacate the auditorium.”

“The auditorium?”

“The fifth floor auditorium always belonged to the acting club. After all, the acting club were the only people who could use it during practice. No one cared. We even got awards from local competitions and everything. We even got a lot of famous actors, too. But the club hasn’t gotten anything done recently. You know that, right?”

Maru nodded. They lost during last year’s winter nationals. That wasn’t the club’s problem. They couldn’t participate because of the fire. The club the year before that participated, but they lost as well. Geunsoo’s club was the golden age of the acting club, the club’s only been in decline since then.

“Back then, the school funded everything for the club. But as you know, the teacher is the one funding the club now. Back in my day, students used to come to our school just to come to our acting club. That fact alone gave the lot of us pride. After all, there were students who came to our school just because of us. We worked very hard, and even got first place in the nationals in our third year as well.”

Miso frowned before continuing.

“Your teacher told me that we might have to give the auditorium to the baseball team.”

“The baseball team?”

The Woosung baseball team managed to win during their high school competition this year. The baseball club finally managed to bring in results for the school. Thanks to them, the entire school even went to cheer for the club instead of taking classes.

“It looks like the chairman’s getting greedy. He wants to get rid of the auditorium to build a fitness center for the baseball team and wants to convert the gym building into a makeshift auditorium.”

A good baseball team could be a massive selling point to any high school. That’s probably why the chairman was thinking about investing a lot into this. Instead of funding the acting club that almost started a fire and continued failing in the prelims, it would be better to fund the baseball club. Even Maru thought this was a sensible decision.

“This is a matter of pride. Plus, that place has been ours for years.”

“But it’s about to get ripped away from us.” “What the, giving up already?”

“This is a matter of money. Students can’t do anything about this. We might as well be thinking about something else since this is pointless.”

“Ugh, this is why I didn’t want to talk to you about this. At least the other kids would tell me to cheer up or something.”

“There’s a difference between something you can do and something you can’t do.”

“...I won’t watch you guys get kicked out of there for the death of me. My pride as a Blue Sky member is at stake here.”

“So that’s why you were so angry.”

“It’s complicated. Watching you guys get lazy when our home was about to get stolen… that did make me really mad. We tried so hard to get that place…”

“I’m sorry.”

There was nothing else Maru could say. In truth, it was possible to just tell her she was overreacting and that the club could always find somewhere else to practice. The world would be a very boring place if everyone was logical like that though. It’s because people like Miso existed, who cared about memories, that life could be interesting for everyone.

“Do you think we’d have a chance if we win the nationals?”

“I don’t know. If the chairman already made his decision, we’d get kicked out no matter what. We can always practice in a classroom or something, but… I’d feel horrible about it.”

Miso gripped her handle with a pout. Maru could tell from her actions just how much she cared about the club.

‘Then again, her theater in Hyehwa station has the same name too.’

The name definitely had a lot of meanings to her. After all, it was what really kicked off her current life to begin with.

“So we’ll have to get something even bigger.”

“Big enough to tempt the chairman.”

“I see.”

“Why?”

“No, I was just thinking about it.”

“Hah, I see. Anyway, you guys have to practice like hell from now. Forget passing the prelims. You need to sweep in all of the awards at the nationals. Got it?”

“We’ll try.”

“Trying isn't enough! Damn it!”

Maru smiled as he turned to look forward again.

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