Chapter 196

“That’s… You...”

Geunseok couldn’t think of a response immediately. His words were based on lies, so it only made sense that his next one would be a lie as well. To lie convincingly over and over again needed an incredibly logical mind, one that could keep formulating lies that made sense. The more you lied, the more difficult this became.

The boy would be able to come up with a good lie given time. Unfortunately, Maru wasn’t about to give him any. He waited just a few seconds before dragging in the class further into their conversation.

“Look carefully. We’re just students. Do you actually think I have the ability to kick you out? Is there a rule that lets students regulate other students? I don’t think so.”

Maru looked around with a shrug, a few kids agreed. Maru quickly scanned the classroom. Geunseok was smart, but there was no way he managed to become friends with everyone in the club. To begin with, the boy probably tried to get along with the smarter kids.

Maru immediately realized that the six kids standing to his right were looking at Geunseok in annoyance, they were vigorously agreeing with everything Maru said as well. Besides that, six kids to his left were slowly making their way closer to the boy. The other twenty people in the class were probably neutral.

‘Geunseok, what’s important about forming a party isn’t what’s black or white. It’s what’s grey.’

The enemy of your enemy is your friend, what you really need the support of are the people in the middle. Maru purposefully took the neutral stance as he spoke.

“I’m just worried for you, Geunseok. Why are you lying over and over again? I keep hearing rumors. Rumors about you talking behind the acting club’s back. Why are you talking so much behind our back? If you have a problem, ‘be a man’ and come talk to us about it. If you really felt injustice towards your situation, shouldn’t you have been more confident about it?”

Be a man. What a magical phrase, they were words that boiled the blood of any youth who heard it. At this age, being told your action ‘wasn’t manly’ was synonymous with being immoral.

“I never lied!”

“Geunseok, would you feel better if I asked for Mr. Taesik’s testimony?”

“W-what?”

“I’m honestly worried about you. I wanted to finish this off nicely if I could, it’s troubling if you come out like this. You stepped out of the club on your own. Isn’t that right?”

“......”

“You left then told me you were bored with acting. Now you’re talking behind our back? I’m confused. Why are you the only one having a different memory of what happened?”

“I-I never...”

“Oh, so I can call the teacher? Ah, but it’s rude to call him out when he’s so busy. But if that’s the story you’re going with, I’ll call him. Is that what you want?”

“The teacher has nothing to do with this.”

“Of course he does, he’s our advisor.”

Geunseok started rolling his eyes in confusion. This was why lying was so dangerous, the boy should’ve thought a bit if he was going to use this route. Foolishly for him, he built his tower on a single lie that could be broken by Taesik alone.

Maru took a look around, half of the kids in class indulged in mocking laughter. To them, the seriousness of the situation didn’t matter at all. All they wanted was entertainment, the actions of Maru or Geunseok didn’t matter to them.

‘No need to insult him for me. They just need to laugh.’

This was just a happening, just a small event that would be forgotten by tomorrow. But how would this feel to Geunseok and his pride? To a person who walked their own path, the opinions of the people around them wouldn’t matter to them. But to a person who fed on compliments, these laughs must be very painful to them.

“What the, Geunseok, you lied?”

“Why’d you go on and do that? You should’ve just joined them again.”

“Seriously. Hey, just join them again. You said you did well, didn’t you?”

The thoughtless words of the class wounded Geunseok deeply, the boy’s face was reddening like hot iron. He must be nursing in quite the shout right now, he was staying patient though. Maru took out his phone, it was time to end this. He checked that the other side picked up the call before handing the phone over to Geunseok, the boy stared at it dumbly.

“Take it.”

“Why would I...”

“It’s Mr. Junmin.”

“What?”

Geunseok hurriedly picked up the phone. After holding it next to his ear for a few seconds, he fell right down on his knees. Maru snatched the phone away from the boy’s hands, Geunseok immediately charged like a rabid dog.

“You bastard!”

Maru didn’t even flinch, Geunseok probably never got into a fight thanks to his cold expression and his large physique. He could tell just by looking at the way the boy moved, the boy’s chin was wide open. Maru sidestepped left and tripped Geunseok, who flopped right down to the ground with a bang.

“Ugh, what an ass. Hey guys, take care of Geunseok for me. He’s not a bad kid, but he has a bit of an inferiority complex. Got it?”

Maru didn’t want to further complicate things, he wanted to keep the class thinking that this was just an amusing event. Geunseok slowly got up and tried to leave the class. The boy came back though, once Maru mentioned “don’t you still need to clean up?” Maru noticed tears streaming down on the boy’s face.

“What the, is he crying?”

“Hey, Geunseok, you crying?”

The other students approached the boy with a smile, Maru gave Daemyung a slight glance. This was good enough, he wasn’t trying to ruin the boy.

“What was that call from earlier? Why’s he like that?”

“Oh, that? Probably just a word or two from Mr. Junmin.”

“What?”

“Probably something like, ‘the contract is over’ or something?”

“Really?”

Maru nodded. They say people are all equal, but that really wasn’t the case. People received preferential treatment based on talent, this was the same when it came to using people. You’re a novice if you end up using people and having their hatred directed towards you. An intermediate if you form a decent relationship afterwards. A pro if they stay desperate towards you even after knowing that you used them. Geunseok knew how to make bad blood between his friends and Maru, but he wasn’t subtle about it. It was odd saying that something like this could be “subtle” at all, but there was definitely a difference depending on the method.

Geunseok was stupid. Rather, he was immature. He played with an adult mindset in a children’s game, he must’ve thought everyone would believe the rumors he spread. That was his mistake. An adult would’ve calculated sticking to who would be better for them, but kids weren’t like that at all. At their age, rumors came and went as easily as the wind. That wasn’t to say Geunseok didn’t have friends anymore. But at least at this moment, his friends would distance themselves from him.

Maru turned around to look back at the class, Geunseok was standing dumbly in the corner while the other students were cleaning. That was exactly what it was, the girls who were so close to Geunseok just a second ago were distancing themselves, out of the fear that they’d be laughed at along with him. If this was at a company, things wouldn’t have ended like this. There were actual lives at stake there, people didn’t just distance themselves from others just because they were afraid of being made fun of.

‘At the height of all this are politicians.’

Politicians don’t stay in politics despite having done crimes because they’re stupid, this was a war for them. To them, what’s good or bad doesn’t matter. All that matters to them is profit.

In the end, this was just a children’s game, Geunseok should’ve used a strategy befitting that.

“I wonder if things will get quiet now.”

“Maybe?”

“Phew, that’s a relief.”

“Relief my ass. We still only have four members. You need to try hard. Our deadline’s Saturday. Past that, we’ll really have to do this with four people.”

“G-got it.”

“Don’t advertise like that dude over there, though.”

“Yup.”

Maru stepped back into his class with a stretch. Dojin demanded an explanation from him, but Maru chose to ignore him.

“Don’t smoke, and if you get caught playing pool… Well, whoever loses in a match with me will have to pay, so just be aware of that.”

Taesik ended the class with a smile, Maru approached the man to give him a short rundown of what happened.

“You should’ve been more gentle.”

“I heard that it’s preferred to cut off seedlings of misshapen growth.”

Taesik shook his head.

“Do you think you’ll find more members?”

“That’s the real issue. Do you have any ideas?”

“Nope, nothing.”

“Don’t you feel a sense of responsibility as an advisor?”

“You’re poking me where it hurts. I’m advertising a bit whenever I can, so hopefully, we get someone by Saturday.”

“We just need up to ten. That’d be better than four at the very least.”

“What if no one comes at all?”

“We’ll seriously have to consider doing two roles at once.”

Though Maru didn’t know if they could even do that. Taesik left the class wishing him good luck.

“Maru, let’s go to the clubroom.”

“Yup.”

There was a disgusting amount of work to do, despite the fact that they had so few members.

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