It was last night when the long text message arrived. After receiving the two text messages before he called Geunsoo, Maru called Soyeon and Suyeon first and then called Geunsoo without hesitation.
‘What time is it now.’
The skies were still dark outside. The sun hadn’t risen yet. He tossed and turned to grab his phone to check the time. It was 5:40 a.m. He ended up opening his eyes at a really awkward time. After tossing and turning for a little longer, he stood up.
The air in the kitchen was cold. When he had a closer look, he found out that the door to the veranda was slightly open. He sighed and walked towards the veranda. He saw that many people were busily moving around even at this time. Watching the cars leaving the parking lot, Maru thought that he wouldn’t be able to fall back asleep anymore as he returned to his room.
He tidied his still warm bed and sat down on his chair. He started reading through the drama script and the movie script side by side when his phone entered his eyes. After looking at his phone with a complicated gaze, he opened his phone and opened his message inbox. There was a long message and a short message that followed. The first one was from Yurim’s parents, and the second one was an apology message from Yurim herself.
He had heard from Soyeon that Yurim had gone to Jeju island to receive mental care. Soyeon frequently called Yurim’s parents to ask about Yurim’s status, and after she calmed down a lot, she said that she directly called Yurim, not through her parents. He had heard that she had recovered well enough to laugh together again, and the message came right as he heard about the news.
The message from Yurim’s parents started and ended with apologies. There were mentions about thanking him for not making a big deal out of that fire incident. There was also the mention that the reason they hadn’t contacted until now was because they felt sorry.
The text message also briefly mentioned why Yurim ended up causing that incident. He could understand the parents’ feelings of not writing down the details since it was a sensitive topic about their child. What he got from it was that the cause of Yurim’s actions came from Geunseok.
Yurim’s parents had written that they were ‘sorry for that child as well.’ However, Maru thought to himself when he read those words: Was it really something to be sorry about? No one in the acting club denied that the two were going out. The one that looked after the agonizing Geunseok was Yurim, and the two started going out thanks to that. However, from the message from Yurim’s parents, it seemed that Yurim was very obsessed with Geunseok. It should have been Geunseok that should have been possessive of Yurim when Maru thought about it, so it seemed that something happened between the two that he wasn’t aware of.
At that moment, Soyeon had texted him as well. The text message contained violent emotions even though it was just written in plain words. Maru wondered what was going on and had called Soyeon. Soyeon had told him that she had also heard about what was going on through Yurim’s parents, and then continued on to tell him about what kind of shameless actions Geunseok was taking in class. Geunseok and Yurim were closer than anyone within the acting club. However, recently, Geunseok went around telling his classmates that he had not dated Yurim at all, and that he was just worried about Yurim and was trying to help her. Soyeon told him that she had heard that story from a classmate of hers and that she felt bugs creeping up her body when she heard those words.
-Geunseok spoke as though Yurim was mentally ill from the very start. How can he do that? I just can’t understand him. No, I don’t even want to. Do you know how much Yurim liked Geunseok, and how much she cared for him? Yurim supported Geunseok even when she was in a difficult situation herself. Do you know how much she liked him despite that…?
To Maru, neither Yurim nor Geunseok left a good impression on him. No, to be exact, they were worse than strangers. He didn’t care what kind of misfortunes the two came across. However, if he was asked who pissed him off more, he could say Hong Geunseok with confidence. He felt a little bit of pity towards Yurim, but to Geunseok? He felt nothing at all.
Negative on top of a negative. The more he dug out about him, the blacker he became. The primary reason for that should be his parents that let him be until he became that way, but when he looked at Geunsoo, he couldn’t entirely fault the parents. The two were raised in the same environment, yet they showed extreme differences in personality.
If one hates rolling around in dirt, then it is only right and proper to escape the ditch. Let’s say that it’s impossible to escape the ditch. If that was all it was, Maru could pity that person.
However, if that person was satisfied with rolling in the dirt and wanted to drag others into the ditch, he couldn’t pity that person even if he wanted to.
Maru was reminded of one thing when he had called Soyeon. The period the relationship between Geunseok and Yurim went wrong overlapped with the time when Yurim and Soyeon’s friendship broke apart. Maru was well aware of what happened at that time. After all, that was when he met Junmin and was introduced to Ganghwan. In other words, it was the same period that Geunseok met Suyeon.
He did expect that there was something going on between Geunseok and Suyeon. After all there was no way Suyeon would leave Geunseok alone when she was aiming for the bigger brother, Geunsoo. Maru had called up Suyeon and asked what happened between her and Geunseok. Suyeon giggled so hard when she heard that question and replied to him that she played a prank on him. He had hit the bullseye.
He hung up when Suyeon was about to say “You should listen to a favor of mine since I answered your question.” Suyeon’s words made everything clear. Although it was just a deduction on his part, the story would be complete. Suyeon entered the good relationship that was Geunseok and Yurim, and that should have caused Geunseok to distance himself from Yurim. As Yurim was extremely reliant on Geunseok’s existence, she wouldn’t be able to accept the fact that Geunseok was getting distant from her. He knew how foolish it was to try and estimate what other people were thinking, but it felt like there was no more room for discussion here.
Then he arrived at the conclusion: Geunseok did not need his pity. At first, he was about to take care of just the container event by calling Junmin. However, he had changed his mind and called Geunseok’s father. It seemed that Geunseok’s father had heard about the general situation from Junmin and Maru could feel that his voice contained suppressed anger. Although it was just a single call, Maru realized that Geunseok took after his father a lot. Geunseok’s father used evasive words to put the blame on Geunseok’s innate nature rather than on his way of educating his son.
After finishing the call, the first thing he thought was that the ancestors were never wrong. You reap what you sow. A tiger father does not beget a dog son. He could practically picture the violent nature that lied behind the deep, calm voice. It was obvious what kind of man he was from Geunseok’s reaction whenever he hears someone mentionining his father’s name.
And since he had said that he had received direct damage from Geunseok to such a person, he could picture what happened to Geunseok as well. If he was young, he may have had a guilty conscience about what he did.
Because of me, he was harmed…
Because of me, things got out of hand…
Because of me…
However, now that he was painstakingly aware of the fact that he was nothing more than an ordinary man in this world, he may feel sorry for him, but he did not feel guilty.
It was simple: there is no such thing as a ‘method that can satisfy everyone’ in this world.
The last line of fairy tales always ended with ‘And they lived happily ever after’. Behind that though was the death of the queen who died after dancing with burning shoes on. There was also the princess that became foam without being able to tell her feelings.
There is the pair of siblings that survived by grabbing the rope sent to them from the heavens for good people, and there is the tiger that fell to his death. A happy ending for everyone was just something too idealistic. With that being the case, what mattered was decision. Who is more important?
Putting down his phone, Maru stretched his arms out. Quite a lot of time had passed. It was about time to get washed. He closed the scripts and put them inside his bag before standing up.
* * *
It felt like watching a man that didn’t exist. It was weird when put in words, but that was the only way to put it. Even though he was right there, he felt like he didn’t exist. Daemyung watched as Geunseok powerlessly walked towards his class while looking at the floor before quickly going to his own class.
“Geunseok is acting strange.”
Maru acted as though he knew something, but he did not explain in detail. All he knew was that Maru’s ‘report’ had influenced Geunseok in some way. Daemyung sneaked out to the design department class before morning homeroom began. He stumbled upon Soyeon who had just arrived and greeted her. Soyeon hung her bag on her desk and then glared at Geunseok. Her eyes were so scary that it made Daemyung gulp. Daemyung stood in her way because he felt that a fight was about to break out. Though, that did not stop her from glaring at Geunseok.
“Uhm… did something happen?”
“Can I ask what it is?”
Hearing that question, Soyeon hesitated for a moment before shaking her head.
“Sorry, but this is a sensitive topic and I can’t talk about it with you. Oh, I’m not saying that I can’t trust you. I know that you’re a good guy, but… you know what I’m talking about, right?”
She only acted embarrassed in front of Taejoon, and she usually acted more down to earth. If she said that it was something serious, then it had to be. And Daemyung felt as though Maru knew what was going on as well. Geunseok’s soullessness and Soyeon’s wrath. He was unable to grasp what was going on.
At that moment, someone hung an arm around his neck. Daemyung looked at Maru who stood next to him and widened his eyes.
“Soyeon. I’m pretty sure that it’s needless advice, but let me just say this. Don’t talk about that matter if you can. Nothing good will come from doing it. Both for you and for her.”
“I know. I’m not going to. But I can’t stand just letting that guy be.”
“Oh that. You don’t need to worry about that anymore.”
Maru released his arm and walked towards Geunseok. Daemyung thought that a fight would break out since what happened here last time didn’t end on a good note. Just as he was getting worried, something unbelievable occurred before his eyes. Geunseok did not react to Maru at all and kept staring at his desk. However, what surprised him the most came right after that.
When Maru took another step forward, Geunseok was scared out of wits and moved backwards. Thanks to that, Geunseok fell from his chair and rolled on the ground. When the other students in the class looked at him, he hurried back into his seat. The boldness and leisure from yesterday was all but gone. Only unease like that of a herbivore being chased by a predator filled the air around him.
Maru walked back towards the two, but his expression was very scary. It didn’t seem like he was angry because of Geunseok, though.
“So he’s an actual trash that crossed the line,” saying those words, Maru glanced at Geunseok before leaving the class. Daemyung also followed suit.
“It’s solved for now. Though, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.”
“Did something happen to Geunseok?”
“I have something in mind. But I don’t think that’s something I can do anything about. It seems like I’ll have to tell senior Geunsoo about it. I’ll tell him that it’s about time to fulfill his role as a brother.”
“His role as a brother?”
Daemyung tilted his head. Maru’s expression was bitter, Geunseok was scared out of his wits, and Soyeon was enraged. For everything to be ‘solved’, the results were quite strange.
“Is it really solved?” He asked Maru who just sat down on his seat. Maru raised his chin a little before saying,
“It’s a happy ending where no one gets to laugh. In any case, we came to a conclusion.”
* * *
Jiseok finished his call with his company. The company had told him the news that he was cast for a drama. He was the son of a family that opposed the main character, and had very few appearances. Despite that, the drama was aired in a golden time slot. He felt thankful that he got to participate at all.
He first told his family about the news and then to his friends living in other areas. Jiseok also called Geunseok. This fellow told him that he had to give up on the acting club but did not give up on acting. He smiled subconsciously when he thought about how they could talk to each other like before and help each other out in a meaningful way.
The phone signaling noise ended and a voice could be heard over the phone. The moment he heard Geunseok’s “hello”, he subconsciously frowned. It wasn’t the voice filled with confidence that he had heard yesterday.
“Hello? Are you really Hong Geunseok?”
Then the call ended. Jiseok felt uneasy and made the call again. Geunseok did not pick up the call for a long time. Jiseok sent him a text message. It was clear that something had happened to him.
 It’s a common expression in Chinese novels, so I don’t need to explain, right?
Now then, what happens if Maru finds out Jiseok knows Geunseok, or Jiseok finds out Maru knows Geunseok?