Chapter 228

* * * *

“I don’t think I made it.”

Daemyung heard those words in the morning and started sighing endlessly, without knowing what to do. He didn’t expect Maru to pass easily. After all, many capable people should have attended the audition. Maru said that as well. However, seeing Maru declare that, Daemyung felt like there was no hope. He was sure that something happened during the audition. It was very likely that Maru had made a big mistake.

‘So even someone like Maru makes mistakes.’

Maru was usually flawless, but he was the same age as the others after all. Daemyung thought that Maru became nervous at a critical moment which cost him the audition. Well, it wasn’t exactly surprising since he would be competing against many others who take professional lessons. Daemyung wondered how he should console him.

He peeked behind him. Since maths was over, Maru was sleeping at his desk. Today, though, that calm side of him made him look pitiful instead. Perhaps he was pushing himself so that others would not worry about him. It was more than likely for Maru to do so. After all, he wordlessly endured the insults of many people from the acting club a year ago.

‘When else would he need consolation if not now? We’re friends.’

He was always on the receiving side. For today, he wanted to be of Maru’s help. Maru’s body shook for a moment before he sat up while yawning. It seemed that he wasn’t getting sleepy today.

‘I knew it. He must be feeling anxious.’

“Hey, Maru,” Daemyung called out.

“Yeah?”

“Wanna go to the school cafeteria?”

“The cafeteria? What, you hungry?”

“No, well, I was wondering if you wanted to eat anything.”

At that moment, Dojin, who clearly didn’t read the mood, interrupted. It was very rare for Daemyung to glare at someone, but today was that day. Dojin flinched and started fidgeting.

“What, you guys had a fight?”

“No, it’s not that.”

Daemyung stood up from his seat and grabbed Maru’s arm.

“Let’s go first. I’ll buy you some bread. Maybe some ice cream too.”

“What’s up with you today? I thought you were running out of pocket money.”

“It’s fine, so let’s go already. Lesson break will be ending soon.”

Daemyung dragged the supposedly dejected Maru to the school cafeteria. Fortunately, there weren’t many people around. They lined up and reached the front of the queue after a short minute.

“What do you want?”

“I’m not that hungry though.”

“You should eat regardless. Only then…”

He stopped. He thought that bringing that topic out might hurt Maru’s feelings. Maru was a strong man, but he was still just a man. Daemyung thought that he should be considerate.

“W, well. It’s somewhat awkward for me to eat alone.”

“You should’ve come with Dojin then. He looked really hungry.”

“I can buy him something later. Take your pick. A drink is fine too.”

“Did you pick up some money in the middle of the road? Why are you in such a hurry to spend it?”

He urged Maru to order something. He ordered coffee milk. Daemyung received the bread and coffee milk and took a seat close to the cafeteria entrance.

“Here, yours.”

“Well, thanks. Though, I don’t know what you’re up to.”

“Uhm, Maru.”

“Yeah?”

“You should tell me if you’re worried about something. I may not be able to help, but I can always listen.”

“Hey… do you have something to ask of me? If it’s like that, don’t beat around the bush and give it to me straight.”

“I’m not going to ask you for anything! I’m just saying that I’m always here to listen to you as your friend. For example, you might be pretending to be completely fine even though you aren’t… and things like that,” saying that, Daemyung smiled and took a bite on his bread. He thought that he did a fine job not making it obvious. Maru, though, was looking at him with squinted eyes.

“Are you sick?”

“Huh? No, I’m not sick.”

“Then are you worried about something?”

“No, not at all.”

“Then why do I feel so awkward? I couldn’t be any more awkward drinking this milk. You’re being really strange right now.”

“T, there’s no way, right? I’m just… willing to hear you out if you’re willing to say things, yeah, that’s right. Tell me anything if you feel worried or something. Should we go to the noraebang(karaoke) together?”

Maru tilted his head sideways and stared back at him. Daemyung thought that Maru was acting like this out of embarrassment. After all, he had always shown his unshakable side of him to everyone else. Showing his weak side must be very foreign and awkward for him. However, what were friends for? A friend must be ready to accept any side of the person, right?

“Cheer up!”

Daemyung didn’t say much. He thought that Maru should have understood what he was doing.

* * * *

“Hey, Dojin.”

“Yeah?”

“Did something happen to Daemyung?”

“No, not that I know of. Oh, he’s gained a little weight. He’s already overweight, but he gained even more. I think he needs to go on a diet,” Dojin said as he yawned before resting his head against his arms on his desk. Maru deemed that Dojin was clueless. Maru then poked Dowook’s waist who was blankly staring at the chalkboard.

“Ow man!”

“Don’t see no owl man[1] around here. Hey, have you heard anything from Daemyung?”

“What the heck is that about.”

“Like, for example, maybe he ran into some problems recently. Or that you saw him all worried by himself.”

“Nothing like that happened. You poked my waist for something like this?” Saying that, Dowook stood up from his seat, grumbling. Daemyung was not adept at lying. If something happened, then these two must have noticed something. If these two didn’t know, then it meant that Daemyung had no problems.

“Maru.”

Daemyung returned. In his hands was a canned drink. Following yesterday, Daemyung was gleefully handing out snacks. When Dojin asked him for one, he flinched and shook his head. Maru didn’t know what this guy was up to.

“Here, drink this.”

“...Ooo...kay?”

At this point, Maru was weirded out as well. This was the first time Daemyung’s kindness freaked him out. His eyes especially - those eyes that looked at him with pity made Maru look around him in wariness. Perhaps he saw something around him that he himself couldn’t. A ghost with an attachment to this world, for example.

“Maru. You know, right?”

“Know what?”

“That everything will go well in the future. Failure is the mother of success. Isn’t it?” Daemyung had a satisfactory smile on his face as he said those words. Maru became seriously worried now. Maybe, this guy didn’t have a physical problem but a mental one…

At that moment, something popped up in his mind. Daemyung started acting strange yesterday. He was completely fine before the morning homeroom, and Maru believed that Daemyung turned strange after talking with him. No, he was sure of it.

‘What did I tell him again?’

He didn’t think he said anything strange. Maru put his hands on his chin and had a look at Daemyung. He found it a little pity that he wasn’t smart enough to remember trivial conversations. At times like these, it was better to ask the person in question.

“Daemyung.”

“Yeah?”

“Did I say something wrong to you yesterday? You’ve been acting strange the past couple days. Tell me anything that’s keeping you occupied. Let’s set things straight.”

“...Oh, uh, no. It’s not like that.”

Daemyung’s expression completely betrayed what he said though. Maru put his hands on his chin and stared at Daemyung. He noticed that Daemyung’s eyes contained something beyond just pity. In the past, they came across a dog drenched from the rain, whimpering. Daemyung’s eyes when he looked at that puppy were precisely the eyes he was using to look at Maru right now. Maru thought about reading Daemyung’s inner thoughts, but he didn’t want to use such a strange power to someone on close terms with him.

‘Well, it doesn’t seem to be a big problem, it should be fine after a couple days.’

* * * *

“You guys aren’t fit to be friends!”

Dowook looked at Daemyung with an expression that said ‘what kind of BS is this’. Those were the first words that came from Daemyung’s mouth after calling Dojin and him out. He left out any sort of context. Dowook frowned. Daemyung flinched and took a step back.

“Hey, make it so that i can understand.”

“S, so… you guys aren’t even worried about Maru?”

“About Han Maru? What about him?”

“How can you be so ignorant? Dojin, you didn’t notice anything either?”

Hearing that question, Dojin also stood there saying nothing. He was clearly clueless. Daemyung sighed.

“You two do know that Maru did an audition, right?”

“Yeah.”

“It seems that he didn’t make it in that audition. That’s why he didn’t have a good expression this whole week.”

“Are the results out?”

Dowook hadn’t heard that the audition results were out yet.

“No, but from the nuance that Maru’s words gave me, I think he made a big mistake during the audition. That’s why there’s no hope of passing at all.”

“So?”

“What do you mean, ‘so’? That was a really important audition for Maru, you know? He should be depressed right now. He’s not showing it to us, but he must be feeling very sad,” Daemyung sounded desperate. Dowook tapped Dojin’s shoulders.

“You notice anything?”

“Not at all. Maru’s just as usual.”

Dowook nodded his head in agreement. Maru was practically sleeping throughout the day. What disappointment could he possibly have? In the first place, Maru wasn’t the guy who would be feeling agonized because of something like that. From what Dowook knew of this guy named Han Maru, if the class decided to bully him, he would bully the entire class back and get the entire school to bully his class. He was the guy who silently ‘took care’ of all the delinquents in the school. Such a guy was worried? Disappointed? He was surprised that Daemyung could associate Maru with those words at all.

“That’s just crazy. Hey, you’re overreacting. Him, disappointed? Pfft. Yeah, right.”

“Hey, don’t speak like that. Maru should have a delicate side to him. We should console him and help him cheer up.”

Daemyung was quite serious. At first, he was going to laugh it over, but when he thought about it, Maru was just an ordinary high school student. Who knows what he was thinking behind his adult pretense? As Daemyung said, he might really be having a hard time right now.

“Maybe this is real?” Dojin pondered worriedly. With even the ever-nonchalant Han Dojin worried, Dowook became a little worried as well. Thinking about it, Maru really did not say anything about the audition. Maybe he really was feeling agonized due to disappointment. Dowook thought for a moment before speaking.

“...Should we take him to noraebang, or maybe a mixer?”

“A mi, mixer?”

“Maybe he’ll feel better if we hang out with some girls.”

“No. Maru has a girlfriend.”

“So what? They are girl-friends, and you are a boy-friend. Alright?”

“S, sh, should we really do that?”

“Hey. When your head is in a mess, screaming your lungs out in a noraebang is the best med. Wait while I call some people.”

“I, I’ll pass on that,” Daemyung replied, clearly flustered. Dowook didn’t accept that though.

“You’re the one who brought this up, so you aren’t going anywhere.”

“I, I’m not good around girls.”

“You should get used to it. Just wait. Dojin, you’re coming too, aren’t you?”

“...Huh? Me? I don’t think I can make it, Iseul won’t be…”

“Dude, your friend is in trouble.”

“I might actually die if she finds out.”

Dojin tried to back out. Dowook headlocked him so that he wouldn’t run.

“Then you can die for all I care. Anyway, that makes it the four of us.”

Since it was a Friday, no one should have any problems timewise. He made a few calls and the plan was set with four girls. Maru should cheer up after riding roller blades for a time and scream his lungs out in a noraebang.

At that moment, Maru returned to the classroom.

“What. Aren’t you guys going home? There’s no practice today, is there?”

Maru was about to leave again after getting his bag. Dowook quickly called out to Maru.

“Hey, Han Maru.”

“What is it?”

“Let’s go to noraebang with some girls. This bro will show you what it means to play.”

“Nah. You guys can go by yourselves.”

“Why?”

“I need to go to Seoul again tomorrow because of the audition. I don’t have any time.”

“Wh, what? I thought you didn’t make it.”

“Who the hell told you that? I got notified that I passed yesterday. But they told me to visit again due to assigning roles.”

Dowook turned around to look at Daemyung. This wasn’t what he heard.

“M, Maru. You told me that you thought you didn’t make it.”

“Huh? What?”

“I asked you and you told me that you thought you didn’t make it.”

“That’s because I need to think like that to feel less sad if I actually do end up failing. Isn’t that common sense? Anyway, do restrain yourselves when you go out. Don’t drink alcohol and go home early. If you feel like you’ll be late, you should call your parents. Don’t make your parents worried, okay?”

Maru waved his hand at them before leaving. Dowook felt his lips curving up. He suddenly felt really annoyed. As to where he would vent his anger, it was pretty obvious.

“Daemyung.”

“Y, yeah?”

“I think you need a beating.”

* * * *

It was Sunday morning. Maru ignored his sister’s words asking him if he was going to Seoul again. If he continued that conversation, it was obvious that she would ask him to buy her something. Maru got onboard the bus and had a look at the notification message.

‘I did pass, but now it’s assigning roles, huh.’

Perhaps there were some adjustments to the delinquent roles. Well, he would find out once he arrived at JA building.


[1] I know, this is a terrible pun. But trust me, the original text is just as cringey as this

Previous Chapter Next Chapter