Chapter 258

Hopping on the bus, Maru sat on one of the back seats. He opened the window slightly and took out the script from his bag. Although he only had two lines, he read them again and again. He engraved each word into his tongue, his teeth and his lips so that he would be able to mutter the words subconsciously. When he kept reading those lines, he could finally feel the pressure from saying those few words. He wished that it would be longer so that he had some time to breathe. He had to express the disdain that the delinquent had towards the old man through those short words as well as the relative catharsis of being above the old man.

“What kind of shit… shit… sshiiit….”

There was a motto on one of the walls in the practice room he practiced acting with Ganghwan in - The quality of a line uttered once is different to the quality of a line uttered a hundred times. The word might be a fixed ‘shit’, but the nuance would be different according to the intonation, the accent, and the pronunciation of the word. What ‘shit’ actually fits with the line? He had a clear answer when he practiced alone, but now that he was on his way to the read-through, he felt complicated.

“Uhm, excuse me. Can you quieten down a little?”

Maru flinched when he heard that voice. Someone had sat down next to him without him knowing. When he looked outside the window, he saw that the scenery wasn’t Suwon anymore.

“Sorry about that.”

He put the script back in his bag. The lady sitting next to him smiled and looked towards her knees. She was reading some kind of workbook and it seemed that she was preparing for a license test.

‘Phew.’

Maru didn’t entirely like the fact that he was so absorbed that he didn’t notice someone sitting next to him. He needed to calm down somewhat. He heaved deep breaths and closed his eyes. He forgot about the script for a moment and focused on his breathing. His tense nerves calmed down somewhat thanks to that.

“Excuse me.”

He saw Gangnam station in front of him. He grabbed a handle and pushed himself up before getting off the bus. The overwhelming crowd made him realize once again that it was the weekend.

Maru opened up his phone and called Yoojin.

“I’m at Gangnam station. Where are you?”

-I’ll be there soon.

“And when is soon?”

-I said I’ll be there soon.

Yoojin hung up just like that. A woman’s ‘I’ll be there soon’ was just as vague and unreliable as a man’s ‘when I was in the military’ stories, so he decided to go to a nearby convenience store for now.

The convenience store was crowded as well. After looking at the tired-looking part-time worker here with pity before going to the table area. He drank some refreshing sports drink, watching the cars go by when a girl entered his eyes. When he squinted and focused on her, he saw that she was Yoojin.

Maru closed the lid on his half filled sports drink and left the convenience store. He saw Yoojin raise her hand from the opposite side of the road before putting it down.

‘What do you want me to do?’

Maru stared at Yoojin in front of the pedestrian crossing. When the lights turned green, Yoojin reached out for the sports drink after running towards him. Of course, he had no intention of giving it to her.

“Give me some. I’m thirsty.”

“Buy one yourself.”

“Is this how you wanna do this?”

“I’ve been drinking it.”

“What’s this, Maru? You’re worried about indirect kissing? Is that it? You see me as a gi… ouch!”

Maru hit Yoojin’s head with the plastic bottle since she was uttering nonsense. Yoojin frowned and took out her phone.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m making a report, of course.”

After tapping on her phone with her thumbs at blinding speed, Yoojin smirked. Just as Maru wondered what was going on, he got a text message. Maru frowned before taking out his phone.

-Don’t bully my friend.

It was from her.

Uhm, excuse me? I’m your boyfriend, you know? And also, your future hubby.

“I’m sorry, but she’s on my side.”

“...Haa.”

With a victorious smile, Yoojin entered the convenience store and came out holding a drink.

“Let’s go.”

“Yes ma’am.”

The two then headed towards the JA Building.

“Did you practice a lot?”

“I only have two lines. So I don’t think they’ll tell me off unless I make a huge mistake.”

“Good for you. I have four scenes so I have a lot to memorize.”

She definitely had a teasing tone in her words. Although they were both extra roles, the scenes they appeared in were drastically different. Yoojin was the second daughter of the second son. According to roles, she would be Suyeon’s younger sister. Unlike her though, who dies a miserable death, Yoojin was used as a set piece to show harmonious family relationships in the beginning of the movie, and meet a bitter ending after witnessing the deaths of her father and elder sister. She was in charge of showing the audience that the consequence of violence was an innocent victim.

“Ah, I’m nervous. Joohyun-unni will be here today too.”

“You two have a scene together, don’t you? When the three sons have a meal together.”

“Yeah. I’m really looking forward to that. That means I get to watch Joohyun-unni acting right in front of me, right? I might faint from joy.”

“What’s so good about her?”

“She’s cool! There’s no actress cooler than her in this world.”

“You’re a total fangirl, huh.”

Maru was reminded of the fact that Bada liked Joohyun as well. Weren’t girls supposed to like handsome male actors? When he thought about it, he realized that the fans of girl idol groups were mostly teenaged girls as well. Of course, those groups had a lot of male fans as well, but the ones that actually took action were all girls.

‘Well, I guess that’s why the marketing departments target teenaged girls as their audience,’ Maru nodded to himself as he remembered his old memories with difficulty.

“I hope I can get close to Suyeon-unni as well.”

“Human relationships are best when there’s a suitable distance.”

“What the heck are you talking about? A close relationship is of course better,” Yoojin grinned as she said those words.

“Fine. That’s for you to decide.”

“What, you have something to say to me?”

“No.”

“Is it about the bad rumors about her?”

Maru looked at Yoojin who just shrugged her shoulders. It seemed that she was quite knowledgeable about it.

“You haven’t participated in a drama even once, have you?” Yoojin looked at the distance as she spoke. She had an aloof expression. For a brief moment, she looked like an adult.

“Do you think I have?”

“Then as a senior who has shot dramas multiple times, I shall give you advice. Hm, hm, bear this in mind since it’s an expensive piece of advice.”

“I don’t like expensive things, so I’ll forgo it.”

“Listen to me. Let me act like a senior once.”

The conclusion was that she wanted to act like a senior. Maru sighed before looking at Yoojin. Yoojin raised her index fingers as she spoke.

“This is something that a senior actor has told me during shooting. ‘The camera only records the present’, and the other one is, ‘The one with more guarantee has more power’.”

“I don’t think that’s suitable advice for a young fellow.”

“What’s that? You’re not the type to believe in Santa Claus even now, are you? Little kiddy Han Maru?” Yoojin said in a joking manner.

“Santa does exist. It’s just that he doesn’t appear in front of evil people like a certain someone who uses someone else’s girlfriend as a threat.”

“Oh no, you don’t wanna go there.”

Maru shook his head after seeing that Yoojin was planning to threaten him by taking out her phone.

“Do you have a guy you like?”

“Why do you ask?”

“Because I’m gonna become his friend, and we’ll hold a bachelor party.”

“That’s just being childish. And also, what’s a bachelor party?”

“...Forget what I said. What the heck am I saying to a kid.”

Maru felt nauseous after that as well since Yoojin kept talking non-stop. Although she was a noisy girl usually, she was especially talkative today.

“Hey, are you doing this because you’re nervous?”

“Who’s nervous?”

Although she talked back as though it was nothing, it seemed that Maru had hit the nail on the top of its head from how she looked away from him. Well, she was about to act with actresses that she had admired for so long, so it wasn’t that surprising. Perhaps the reason she called Maru out like this was also for her to shake off her nervousness as much as possible by talking noisily.

“Do well and don’t get nervous.”

“I’m not getting nervous,” Yoojin grinned back at him.

“We’re here.”

They were in front of the JA building. Although Maru had visited this place several times in the past, today felt somewhat new. There were a lot of people in the first floor lounge, and they were split in half right in the middle. On one side, people with phones, cameras and recorders were clearly moving around in a fluster, while the other side was busy with phone calls. It seemed that the former side were journalists and the latter side were the managers.

The two passed by an employee who was explaining the situation and took the elevator upstairs. The read-through was going to take place on the 7th floor. This was the floor that JA Production was using. Like when Maru came here for the interview, he followed the guide and walked down the corridor to his right. He walked down the corridor with glass walls and turned left once. He saw many people underneath the sign that said ‘Conference Room 1’. Just like on the first floor, there were people with cameras and managers. Everyone was waiting with a cup of vending machine coffee in their hands.

At that moment, a man with a short haircut approached Yoojin.

“Look who’s here. It’s been a long time, Lee Yoojin.”

“Ah, hello, journalist.”

 The two greeted each other warmly. Maru got off to the side. The two seemed to be quite well-acquainted as they were smiling when they were talking to each other. Whenever the journalist talked about something, Yoojin giggled while covering her mouth. She looked very polite unlike the very down-to-earth appearance she showed Maru.

After their conversation ended, Yoojin walked towards Maru.

“You’re popular. A journalist knows you.”

“We got acquainted when I did a drama a while back. But I don’t really like him since he’s quite trashy, but I didn’t think I’d see him here.”

“Trashy? You two looked quite close back there.”

“I don’t want to get on the journalists’ bad side from the get go. If you want to continue down this line, you should practice your smiles you know? You won’t get any photos taken with a stiff expression like that,” Yoojin spoke as she poked Maru’s cheeks.

“But do we need to wait here as well?”

“I don’t know. Since everyone’s over there, we should be there too, don’t you think?”

Yoojin looked around when the journalists erupted into an uproar. They emptied their paper cups and picked up their equipment.

“Journalists, you should know this by now, but you can’t cross this line! Please abide by the rules!”

An employee appeared out of nowhere and spoke as he pointed at the white line on the floor. Maru stood behind that line as well. Somehow, he ended up standing with the journalists. Not long later, someone appeared at the end of the corridor. She was holding a bottle of water in one hand.

“Ahn Joohyun is here.”

“It’s her first commercial movie in four years. Take a good photo of her. We’ll upload it on the article immediately.”

“Hey, don’t push.”

The journalists started taking photos. Despite the fact that they were indoors, camera flashes were everywhere. Maru saw that Joohyun didn’t bat an eyelid despite the blinding flashes, and thought that she was a true pro.

Joohyun walked towards Conference Room 1 after waving her hands once towards the journalists. Someone that seemed to be her manager opened the door for her. She turned around one last time before she entered.

“What are you two doing over there?” Joohyun pointed at Maru as she spoke. The journalists all suddenly turned around.

“When did you switch jobs?” Joohyun gestured towards the two to come to her. Maru scratched his eyebrows and walked towards the conference room.

“You should’ve waited inside if you arrived.”

Maru looked behind him before speaking.

“This is the first time I saw something like that. Rather than that, you’re quite popular.”

“I’m a pop star after all. But I don’t really like it. I know that there is at least one person among those journalists that wrote a bad article about me. Should I go tell them to erase my picture?”

Joohyun smiled and talked about things that would be controversial without batting an eyelid. An actress that could swear during an interview was really quite daring. Yoojin, who was following Maru, spoke.

“Unni, you were really cool.”

“You can just give them the fuck you later as well. The pronunciation is important. It’s not ‘Fuh Q’. You should clearly accentuate each word. FUCK. YOU.”

“Hahaha.”

The two ladies entered the conference room joyfully. There were many people already seated in the conference room. On the long central table were some name plates with the names of the characters in the movie. There were chairs lined up against the walls as well, and there were people with scripts on those chairs as well.

‘Looks like extras are on the outside.’

It seemed that the central table was reserved for the main and sub roles. Joohyun boldly sat at the table. Of course, in front of her was the name of the character she was acting.

Maru sat down on one of the chairs in front of the right wall. One man who was sitting there, greeted him. Maru greeted back.

‘It’s definitely heavy here.’

The air was different. Although this wasn’t exactly practice, but just a showcase event for the journalists, the atmosphere was different as the people here were professionals. Maru sighed deeply before taking out the script from his bag. He had to adapt to the atmosphere here first.

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KTLChamber's Thoughts

Jiseok isn't here...?