Chapter 157

She had a very beautiful smile. Judging by what Maru called her earlier, her name was probably Miso. The woman walked over to them as she looked around the room. Her eyes fell on the teddy bear and she smiled.

"So Soojin's been here?"

"Yes, I feel like a little girl," Maru responded as he tapped at the teddy bear's head.

Miso's eyes turned to look at Suyeon, who was still sitting on the bed.

"Eh? Ms. Suyeon?"

"Long time no see, Ms. Miso."

"It hasn't been that long. I heard your voice through the phone several times already."

"But it's been six years in reality, hasn't it?"

"That's right. How odd. People in this industry tend to meet often too."

"It really is odd. We haven't even tried to avoid each other either."

"Would you like to go for a drink, since it's been so long?"

"No, I have work."

"Ah, I see. How about you leave, then?"

"No thank you. Plus, investing time into Maru doesn't feel so bad."

Suyeon smiled at Maru after finishing her sentence, she wasn't a fan of Suyeon's movements for some reason. Miso wasn’t particularly friendly towards this woman either.

“You must know Maru,” Miso asked Suyeon as she handed over a juicebox.

She received the juice box awkwardly as Miso finally turned to greet her.

“Hello.”

“Ah, hello.”

“Mind if I sit there?”

Miso was pointing at the chair next to her. She nodded. Miso took her seat and crossed her legs. She kept glancing at Miso from the side, the woman had really thin legs.

“I don’t know him that well, honestly. Hopefully it doesn’t stay that way, though,” Suyeon finally responded.

“I heard it’s pretty rude to visit strangers in hospitals.”

“Really? I disagree.”

They went straight back to arguing again. What was up with all of these visitors? None of them were normal so far.

“Big sis.”

Bada was pulling at her clothes, the girl seemed to want to go outside for a moment. She slid out of her seat and got a little further away. Even now, Miso and Suyeon were still bickering with each other. Maru watched them for a little while before getting back to reading his book. Maru was flipping through his pages with a yawn. The two women continued arguing with each other, completely disregarding him. Just what was happening?

“These two don’t like each other, do they?” Bada whispered.

It really wouldn’t have mattered if the girl raised her voice though. The two women were talking so intensely that they didn’t look like they could hear anything.

“I think so.”

“What the heck does my brother do outside? Why are there so many adults visiting him?”

“I’m wondering the same thing.”

Bada looked at the bed with a confused expression, She turned to look as well. Maru let out a sigh as he closed the book in his hands. Its hardcovers closed with a snap, the two women finally closed their mouths.

“Thank you for coming. But any more of this and I’m really going to get a headache. If you two have something to talk about, I recommend the cafe next to the hospital. Also, instructor.”

“Yeah?”

“Did we pass?”

“Ah, right. That’s what I wanted to talk about.”

Miso made a ‘v’ with her hands.

“Passed with flying colors. The nationals are next week. We’re representing the Gyeonggi province with Myunghwa High.”

“I expected as much. You told the kids to not text me about this, didn’t you?”

“Of course. Such good news shouldn’t be delivered by text.”

“No wonder no one responded.”

Maru turned to look at Suyeon this time.

“Thank you for coming. But I am a little bit disturbed by your presence, if I’m being honest. We’re practically strangers, Ms. Suyeon.”

“Call me big sist...”

“We can think about honorifics later down the line. But if you have nothing special to say, I’d appreciate it if you could leave. Things would probably get loud again if the two of you stay here and it’s not like I can kick out my own instructor.”

“You’re surprisingly cold, seeing how you just draw a line.”

Suyeon leaned forward to Maru. Looking at that, she frowned from across the room. The woman was clearly taunting Maru. She retracted her previous thoughts about the woman, this Suyeon has bad news written all over.

“I won’t be able to see you off. My leg’s a little bit damaged, as you can see.”

Maru spoke as he scratched his eyebrows. Suyeon pouted, seemingly having expected a different answer. She ended up shrugging in defeat.

“Please be a little bit more friendly if you can next time. I want to be on good terms with you if possible.”

“Of course, if I get the chance.”

“If you don’t?”

“Well, life will go on regardless. Can you please leave now?”

Suyeon’s eyes widened. Maru’s voice was calm and relaxed, but he had strength behind his words. The woman’s lips straightened, and her eyes were frigid for the briefest moment. A smile returned pretty much immediately, but she definitely caught it. This was a scary person, she just knew it.

“You’re too much. I even took out time on my schedule to come to visit you.”

As Suyeon raised her hand to towards Maru’s face, he grabbed her wrist firmly from the air.

“...That’s cute.”

“There’s no way such a big dude like me would be cute.”

“You seemed like such a quiet kid the last time I saw you. Who would’ve thought you’d be so feisty? So that Maru I saw on stage wasn’t anything exaggerated after all.”

Suyeon retracted her hand with a slight pout, she buttoned up her jacket and picked up her bag.

“I’ll see you next time, Maru.”

“Please take care, Ms. Kim Suyeon.”

“Wow, cold until the very end.”

Suyeon got up as she flipped her hair back. She watched the woman step out of the room, catching a glimpse of the woman’s face before her figure disappeared entirely.

‘A wild dog.’

That was the only impression she could get from it.

“I feel sorry for no reason,” Miso said as she licked her lips nervously.

“Seriously. Did you two really have a reason to start fighting in front of a patient? I thought my wounds were going to explode again.”

“Hey, it wasn’t that bad.”

The atmosphere of the room loosened up again.

“Oh my, I forgot to even introduce myself. I’m the instructor for the acting club he’s in.”

Miso put a hand over Maru’s head and shook it. This time, unlike what he did to Suyeon, Maru let her do it. Looking at that made her realize that Maru was actually very picky when it came to people, that made her feel a little relieved. The boy always loved to tease her. That was a good sign, wasn’t it?

“I’m his sister.”

“Ahh, Maru had a younger sister, huh? How’s he like at home? He’s a total meanie that says whatever he wants, isn’t he?”

“That’s right. He has matured recently though.”

“Is that so?”

The two of them shared a hearty laugh, she let out a small giggle as well. Miso looked towards her.

“You’re a sister as well?”

“No, a friend.”

Bada butted right in.

“She’s his girlfriend.”

“Oh my god.”

Miso put Maru under a headlock and shook him. The boy could only manage to squeeze out an “I’m a patient”. She smiled, feeling her cheeks heat up a little. She was embarrassed, but it also felt good hearing that from Bada.

“Were you surprised to hear that he got hurt?”

“Yes.”

“Was he honest with you?”

“No, he had the gall to tell me he was okay at first.”

“I knew it. This kid worries way too much about everything. Especially about other people. Well, I guess that’s what makes him so likeable.”

Miso seemed to know Maru very well. Then again, she was his instructor. Maru managed to get out of the headlock and fixed up his hair before talking again.

“So we both managed to go to the nationals.”

“Looks like it,” she nodded.

“Eh? What do you mean?”

Miso blinked in confusion. Ah, she didn’t explain, did she?

“I’m from Myunghwa High’s acting club.”

“Really?”

“Yes.”

“Mm, so a competitor?”

“Y-yes, pretty much.”

Miso narrowed her eyes, the woman’s gaze felt hot and pressuring. It was kind of becoming a little too much, actually.

“Aren’t you going to celebrate?”

Maru took Miso’s attention away just at the right time. The woman sighed lightly in response.

“I was hoping to leave when the kids get here.”

“When the kids get here?”

Right then, the hallway outside started getting very loud.

“Is it here?”

“I think so.”

The door opened. Yoonjung was the first to step in with a big smile, the other club members followed in behind her.

“We’re here!”

“Maru, are you okay?”

“Seriously, you...”

She stepped aside to look at the club members. They were all people who worked alongside Maru to create such an amazing play. Being all people from the same club, they seemed to be good friends with Maru. Well, all except two of them, by the looks of it. One of them was the tall boy. She recognized him in an instant.

‘The boy who was good at acting.’

She could remember the boy’s acting as clear as day. He had quite the charisma on the stage, so it was hard to forget him. Next to him was a shorter girl. She looked rather cute, but also incredibly nervous for some reason as well. Her eyes went to extraordinary lengths to avoid Maru.

It was odd.

She started staring at the short girl without realizing it. Their eyes met for an instance and the girl paled like she just saw a ghost. She turned away. Was the girl sick? Or did the girl have bad memories of the hospital? Ah well, at least she came to see Maru.

“Was the cause of the fire discovered, by the way?” Maru asked Miso.

Miso’s smiling face stiffened.

“We found a tube of glue next to the burnt costumes. They’re not something we use. We only used silicon, to begin with.”

“That means...”

“We don’t have anything solid yet, but the fire might’ve been intentional.”

“I see.”

Maru looked towards her as soon as he got that far.

“I’ll leave for a bit,” she said as she turned.

Maru stopped her.

“No, we shouldn’t talk about this here anyway.”

Miso joined in with him.

“Yes, you should stay with Maru. We need to leave soon. I’ll give you a call once this all gets sorted, Maru.”

Miso left first after telling Maru to get better. One by one, the club members promised to come again before walking out.

“Who’s that, by the way?” A boy sucking on candy asked.

He was being quiet about it, but she heard him regardless.

“Girlfriend.”

“...What?”

“Dojin, can I just be alone with her for a bit?”

The boy exited the room visibly dejected when Maru waved him out. The room was quiet once more.

“Phew, finally. Bada, can you buy me some kimbap outside?”

“Mm, sure. I’ll be out for a few minutes.”

Bada went outside with a grin.

“Finally, just us two.”

Maru was saying something so embarrassing so calmly. She smiled lightly as she took a seat.

“Aren’t you popular, Mr. Maru.”

“You just realized?”

“My goodness.”

“You’re a lucky girl, did you know that?”

“You...”

“Kidding. I’m the lucky one here.”

“......”

Maru extended his hand towards her, she grabbed it.

“I’m sorry for getting hurt. For making you relive those memories.”

Just how much of her mind did he read? She could only smile defeatedly, she couldn’t get angry like this.

“...Don’t get hurt from now on. Don’t lie, either.”

“Okay.”

“If you’re going to get hurt, ask for permission first.”

“Okay.”

“You’re just saying okay to everything.”

As she looked at Maru with a smile, his face started inching closer to hers. His lips pecked away at hers quickly, she blinked in confusion for a second before pushing him away.

“Youu!”

Maru pointed at his cast with a grin when she tried to push him harder.

“I’m a patient, go easy on me.”

This guy… Well, she didn’t… hate it.

“Ohh.”

A sound came from outside the room, she turned around in surprise. Bada was looking at the two of them with a smile.

“You’re a brave one, aren’t you, sis?”

Hah… Was everyone in Maru’s family like this?

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