It didn’t feel like the calm before the storm. Even after the 6th period, Maru did not show any movements. Daemyung was even a little confused when he saw Maru acting like everything was solved with him putting the slippers in his bag. Perhaps he was planning to forgive Geunseok after giving him a warning?
‘I don’t think that’s what’s happening though.’
With this incident, they were now unable to use the majority of costumes that their seniors had painstakingly created over the years. It was the same story with the props. Geunseok’s actions were extremely serious to just let him off. After being thrown out of their clubroom, they had to throw away a bunch of props and costumes. Although it was a pity to throw any of them away, they had to be done with as their new space was smaller. The remaining props and costumes were naturally really precious as they survived the selection process.
“You said something about making a report. Is that all you’re going to do?”
“It is. What about it?”
That was a bit of a pity, but thinking about it, Geunseok was someone who had spent a year with the rest of the acting club. The reason they were able to have good results at the competition was also thanks to him. That was the undeniable truth. Perhaps Maru was about to let him off on a good note since he considered that point. It was just that, something still tugged on Daemyung’s mind. Who was he going to make the report to? If it was not a teacher, then who else…
Daemyung watched as Maru walked out of the classroom with his phone in one hand and lied down on his desk face down. He didn’t know the specifics, but it felt as though things were over. He was worried that a fight may break out when Maru went to the design department class, but it ended up like this.
‘Yes. All’s well that ends well.’
Daemyung closed his eyes. He was relieved that things ended quietly.
* * *
Geunseok shook off his unease the moment the 8th period ended. He almost panicked when he found out that there was paint on his slippers, but now that he thought about it, it couldn’t be considered decisive evidence. He could just say the paint got on there from somewhere else. It wasn’t like there was a CCTV within the school, nor was there anyone that saw him. He could just act ignorant.
Of course, it would be a complicated matter if Maru decided to get the teachers involved, but Geunseok was well aware that Maru won’t do such a thing so he wasn’t worried about that. The acting club had desperately hidden the fire incident. Moreover, thanks to that incident, they were expelled out of their club room. Maru should be very well aware of how the teachers would view the acting club if he decided to tell them. This was why getting the teachers involved was out of Gunseok’s consideration. If they do? Then he could just drag the fight out so that the teachers would eventually leave. After all, there was no evidence.
“Geunseok. I’m going to the PC bang(PC cafe), let’s go together.”
To maintain his connections with his friends, he had to participate in minor outings like these. If he rejected them too much, his reputation might dwindle. He took his bag and left. Although he had somewhat expected Maru to be waiting for him, there was no one on the corridor.
He saw the electric engineering department had just finished their homeroom and were leaving as well. He found Maru and co. among them. For a brief moment his eyes met Maru’s. Geunseok intentionally made a smirk. He did so in order to see Maru’s reaction. Maru just scanned him from top to bottom before wordlessly facing away.
At that moment, Geunseok inwardly rejoiced. He had to admit that Maru was a smart guy. He wasn’t good at his studies, but even Geunseok wanted to learn a thing or two from him about how to handle other people. The fact that such a guy took a step back meant that he knew that the slipper was not a conclusive evidence. The fact that he came to visit Geunseok’s class despite that was probably to tell him that he was aware of who the culprit was. It was just a simple threat, not something more, not something less. That was the only thing Maru could do.
Now that he knew what was going on, his worries melted away like snow. The only thing Maru could do was to perhaps try and get those tainted clothes cleaned.
Geunseok felt refreshed now that he had gotten his revenge. He thought that he made a splendid choice leaving the acting club and not being hung up on it. Acting, he still wanted to do it. However, he wasn’t going to do it through the acting club in his high school. He now had acquired time from his father as long as he maintained his grades. His father told him that he would not interfere with what he wanted to do during that time. It was painful that Junmin had ended up abandoning him, but he thought that he still had the talent. As long as he maintained his good grades and kept on practicing his acting, he should be able to get into a good entertainment company soon enough. If everything went wrong, he could always ask for help from his brother. His brother would probably accept him if he acted nice towards him.
Geunseok clenched his fists. When he reminded himself of Junmin, he gnashed his teeth. That day, he heard the words “I don’t think you’re the one” from him. This signalled the end of his contract. The moment he heard those words, he was so frustrated and angry that he ended up crying. That embarrassment - it still made him frustrated to this day. He liked neither Han Maru nor Lee Junmin. He decided that he would make them regret what they did to him one day.
Just as he went down the stairs after shaking off his worries, he saw a lady with a baseball cap and sunglasses on walking up the stairs. The curvatures of her body shown above her training outfit was tremendous. Even his friends next to him were wondering who she was. It was just as he passed by that person while wondering if she was the so-called daughter of the head director of the school. Geunseok was shocked to the point that he stopped breathing. The smile he saw with a glimpse at the side of her face. That erotic smile that he could never forget made him realize who the lady was. The woman climbed up the stairs without even greeting him. Geunseok told his friends to go ahead before following the lady up.
Geunseok stopped her on the stairs between the fourth and the fifth floor where no one else could be seen nearby. The woman that he gave up his pride for and contacted numerous times was right in front of him.
The woman with a faint smile on her face was none other than Suyeon. Geunseok almost became angry. She asked ‘who?’
“It’s Geunseok. Hong Geunseok.”
“Tell me. So what? You feel nice to meet me? Or what?”
“...Are you really going to be like this?”
What of all the lessons, and the erotic times?
“You didn’t answer any of my calls or messages.”
“Kid, you’re creeping me out. Were we something?”
“What are you….”
“You don’t have any relationship with Mr. Lee Junmin. The coach work is over with. Do I still have any relationship with you? I don’t think so.”
“You don’t feel anything when you look at me?”
“Of course not. You’re funny. Why do I need to mind you at all? Stop misunderstanding. I get that you want to get close to me. I can do so, if you want. But… I can’t play on the same level as a snotty-nosed brat, can I? Anyway, see you later. If you’ve become a man by then, I might hang out with you once.”
Suyeon smiled and waved her hand. She felt so distant. It was as though seeing her through a screen.
He called out as he followed her. There, he found out. Suyeon was greeting the acting club with a smile on her face. She was here as an instructor?
Geunseok glared at Suyeon for a while before turning around.
‘You can’t play on the same level as a snotty-nosed bart, huh? Good. I can just become successful then. Women are all the same. They will end up spreading their legs out to successful men.’
Geunseok also grasped what personality this woman named Suyeon had. To have her, he had to pay the price. Geunseok licked his lips as he went down the stairs. He didn’t like that he had to do so, but it still motivated him.
He left through the left main door and was just changing his shoes. At that moment, his phone suddenly started ringing. He took out his phone from his pocket. The name written on it was very unexpected. Geunseok stared at that name for quite a while as the bell rang a few times. He chuckled. At the same time, he felt somewhat joyful.
“It’s been a while. How’s your heart holding up, weakass?”
He spoke as he received the call.
-Calling someone so hardworking a weakass huh? You’re a bit rude.
“Damn madman. Rather than that. What’s up? You don’t usually call me at this time?”
-I’m in Suwon.
-I said I’m in Suwon right now. Let’s meet.
“Weren’t you in Busan?”
-I came back.
-It’s been about a year, I guess.
“A year? And you’re calling me now?”
-I was busy. I became successful in my own way too. I’ve got a company I belong to.
“Damn kid. You called me to boast, huh.”
-You have a rough mouth as always.
“Likewise, you are overly cheerful as always.”
-That’s just how I am. Rather than that. Where are you right now? I’m in Suwon station.
“Wait there, I’ll be right there.”
Geunseok then hung up on the call and looked at his phone screen. He saw a name - Yoo Jiseok. It was the guy he considered as his only friend.
* * *
“It’s been a long time. Hasn’t it?”
“Looks like you have a good life going for you looking at your face.”
Jiseok smiled brightly towards Geunseok who he hadn’t met for a long time.
In his middle school, he moved houses from Daejeon to Suwyon. As he frequently moved houses, he didn’t feel anything about it. The only thing that changed was the pharmacy that he went to to get his medicine. At school, he was known as the quiet kid in class. Afraid of the words from his doctor saying that he should avoid intense exercise, he sat still during gym classes as well. He lived like that since he was in elementary school, and whenever he did so, the other kids were considerate of him, but from some time onwards, they became distant. He was aware that they weren’t the bad ones. It was just that he found it a little pity. That was why he often fell into thought. He imagined a story where he became a man loved by all and never had to feel lonely ever again.
He believed that nothing would change when he transferred to the middle school in Suwon. As he had expected, he started his ‘quiet kid’ life again. The ones curious about the new student in class soon distanced away from him and all they did was greet him. It couldn’t be helped. The words that he shouldn’t do any intense exercises became his shackles which made him think that staying still was the best thing he could do, and he believed that there was no one would become friends with him since he didn’t take any action at all.
However, just one person. There was just one person who kept talking to him and smiled with him. That was none other than Geunseok. Geunseok was someone who said that he would follow his brother’s steps to become an actor. He was very popular in class as well. He was good at his studies, and was very athletic to boot. He could do anything. Jiseok was envious of that Geunseok. That was his ideal way of living.
However, not long later, he ended up discovering Geunseok’s secret. His secret was that his kind side was but a pretense, and that Geunseok didn’t view anyone else as his friends. After his secret was found out, Geunseok got angry. He scolded Jiseok that he was now in big trouble thanks to him. However, for some strange reason, Jiseok didn’t hate that part of him. In fact, he was glad. It was at that moment that he realized that all people led difficult lives. That made him realize that he wasn’t the only sick one.
After that Jiseok talked to Geunseok more and more. At first, Geunseok smiled back at him in response in front of everyone else and got angry when no one else was nearby. He liked that Geunseok was humane. That was enough. Like that, they hung out together for around two years.
Geunseok was a self-centered, condescending man who the world would hate if they found out his true nature, but to Jiseok, he was the first guy that he spoke about his problems to. Around that time, he became interested in acting thanks to Geunseok. He learned various things from Geunseok who was teaching himself about acting. Jiseok went his way to look for theater acts and raised his dream.
Geunseok was still the guy that had the mask of pretense in front of everyone else, but he had become a friend of Jiseok who was very down to Earth. The two only had each other as friends and they were close enough that they didn’t need to say what they thought to get their point across.
“Acting? God dammit. It’s fucked up. Thanks to one damned prick, it went all wrong.”
“That’s because you have a screwed up personality. I told you to live a good life.”
“Fucker, where else can you find someone living a better life than me? Look at me. I’m kind to everyone. Although it’s all fake, I keep being the kind man in front of everyone else. Isn’t that a real side of me too then? People think I’m the good guy after all. If that’s not real, then what is?”
“Fine, fine. Your shit philosophy still hasn’t changed, huh.”
“Hey, your mouth has gotten a little rough after spending some time in Busan, huh.”
“I learned it all from you.”
And then, there was a moment of silence. Jiseok looked at Geunseok in the face, then smiled. He thought that friends must be beings that they could look and smile at without reason. Geunseok also started laughing while using swear words.
As they were laughing on the stairs on the first floor of Suwon station, people started staring at them. Jiseok started laughing even more because he found the situation fun.
“Weakass, stop laughing.”
“Why? It’s fun.”
"I ain't no weakass though."
"Nope. Not with that heart."
"It's getting better you know? The doc says I'll be fine with just medication. I won't be needing any surgery or anything."
"Really? That's good. Guess that removes the weak and just leaves you an ass."
“That’s right. I’m not a weakass anymore. I’m just an ass.”
“Damn lunatic. I had my guesses since you took that corner seat in middle school. That that damn fucker has psychopathic tendencies but is holding it in.”
“That’s right. Thanks to you, I became a weird guy who goes around greeting everyone. Thanks, I mean, thanks a lot.”
“If you’re thankful then treat me something.”
“Then let’s get something to eat. Tell me about your story too - why you left the acting club, and what you’re dissatisfied with. You know I’m good at listening.”
“Though, you never give solutions.”
Jiseok smiled and hung his arms around Geunseok.
“Geunseok. Do you still remember what you first said when you greeted me?”
“What did I say?”
“You said ‘Hello? Your name is Jiseok? My name has a ‘seok’ in it too. It’s nice to meet you.’ Do you remember that?” Saying that, Jiseok gave Geunseok a glance. Geunseok’s lips twitched as he replied,
“Wekass, I don’t remember. And I was that childish? We both have a ‘seok’ in our name? Stop kidding me.”
“I’m not kidding though.”
Jiseok laughed his heart out as he walked. This was why friends were good. To Jiseok, Geunseok was like a hammer - the hammer that beat up this world that was boring; that he was afraid of; and that was stifling. Jiseok admired that boldness and that liberty. And now, he was proud because he felt that he had become somewhat similar. If there was one thing he wanted, then it was that he wanted to be of a good influence to him like he was to Jiseok himself. Jiseok thought that it would be good if he was the one to fix Geunseok’s twisted personality.
“Don’t laugh, prick. You’re making me embarrassed,” Geunseok spoke.
* * *
Practice had ended and it was time to clean up. Maru took out his phone and stood up. There was an order to his reports. The effects would only be amplified if he maintained the command line. And since he had to be polite, he was going to get permission as well.
“You’re making a call again?”
Daemyung raised his head and spoke. Maru looked back at him with a smile, saying, “yes”.
 Author’s note states that the Hanja characters for Geunseok is “根席”, and Jiseok is “咫席”. Just writing this for the zero of you that’s interested.
A huge plot twist! Now then. Let's see who Maru decided to get involved (aka 'make a report to'), shall we?