“I come here quite frequently, and the food is really good.”
The place he followed Sungjae to was a Japanese-style restaurant. He pushed aside the blue noren and walked inside. Next to the entrance, which was decorated with black pebbles and gravel, was a desk that checked for reservation. When Sungjae approached that desk, the employee smiled back at him. It seemed that Sungjae was really a regular here from how he greeted back without being flustered.
‘I’m eating a lot of good food these days.’
He was eating a lot of good food these days unintentionally. It was good to have acquaintances that were successful. Normally, he’d avoid such food due to the price.
“This place, huh. It’s quite good.”
Gyunglim spoke from the side.
“You’ve been here before?”
Gyunglim nodded as though it was natural.
“Let’s go in.”
They followed Sungjae to the 2nd floor. An employee opened the door for them.
“Please wait a moment.”
The employee smiled and closed the door.
“I’m worried these days because I regained my appetite thanks to the instructor,” Sungjae sat down as he spoke.
“But you’re in good shape though.”
“I gain weight really easily and... I don’t really like exercise. I'm used to it, but just because I’m used to it doesn’t change the fact that I don’t like it.”
Maru nodded as he poured some water for everyone. The cup was a ceramic cup with a koi fish on it. There were some seaweed-like things drawn on the inside. He put a cup in front of Sungjae and Gyunglim and looked around for the container for the spoons and chopsticks, but he couldn’t see one.
“They give you one when they serve you. You didn’t even know that?”
Gyunglim remarked in a spicy manner.
“That’s because I’m ordinary.”
Gyunglim took out her phone and started typing. She was probably chatting with the people from the blog that she showed him during the day.
“If phones get better in the future, we’ll talk less and less with other people, right?” Sungjae spoke as he drank some water. Gyunglim raised her head.
“Am I strange?”
“No, it’s not like that. It’s just a thought I have recently. Texting is definitely more comfortable than speaking, isn’t it?”
“You’re right. Texting is much more comfortable. If I try to talk in front of other people, especially if there’s a lot, it feels somewhat….”
Gyunglim turned her head away before saying ‘uncomfortable’ in a small voice.
“I was like that too.”
Sungjae smiled as he spoke. Gyunglim put her phone beneath the table and looked at Sungjae.
“Right now, I’m used to talking in front of many people, but when I just had my debut, that was the hardest thing for me. Practicing dancing and singing was hard, yes, but talking in front of other people without preparing was the hardest for me. I still remember my first fan meeting. I was in front of my fans, and the host suddenly asked me a question. What type of girls do you like? That was the question, and that turned my head blank and I didn’t know what I had to say.”
“So? What did you do?” Maru asked.
“Even I don’t know why I did that. Thankfully, it was nearly at the beginning of my career, and there weren’t any cameras around, so it ended without a hitch, but it definitely became a huge issue back then. The host quickly tried to switch the topic, but I foolishly said that I’d reply, making things even more awkward. The other members panicked as well and only after a long time did they start laughing. Now that I think about it, I had an even harder time back then than when I made a mistake on a live show.”
Sungjae shook his head in resignation as though it still made him feel embarrassed. Maru smiled and grabbed his cup. Cried, huh. He could imagine what kind of emotions Sungjae had back then. Anyone would start sweating cold sweat if they suddenly receive an unexpected question while they were at the center of attention.
“I was like that too.”
Gyunglim, who blurted that out with a dazed expression, quickly became startled and shut her mouth. However, it was too late. Everyone had heard her already.
“Since it’s like this, why don’t we all say something? I’m the only one embarrassed here.”
Sungjae quickly followed up. It seemed that he was being considerate for Gyunglim. What a good youth he was. Gyunglim had much to learn from him.
“Maru, you don’t have anything like that?”
Sungjae gave Gyunglim a glance before speaking. Maru felt that the mood would turn awkward if he said that he didn’t have any.
“Of course I have one. Though, I didn’t cry. It was during a presentation I did. The teacher kept asking me weird questions. Questions that weren’t related to the topic. Actually, I had a slight conflict with that teacher before the presentation. He must have been annoyed by that and kept asking such questions. When I think about what happened back then, it makes my head churn. Others that are competing with me for grades are all staring at me, but I can’t say anything. It was frustrating and made me angry.”
“That teacher is totally trash,” Gyunglim spoke.
Of course, he had just adapted an event he experienced in the company into his school. The memory of his presentation, where he had to bow down to the general manager who had indisputable authority over the approval of his project, was still clear in his mind even now when most of his memories had faded away. A colleague he was close to looked at him with pity and the colleague that had a competing item looked at him with glee, while the deputy general manager quickly gestured for him to sit down. If he lost his rationale just a little, he might have cried without being able to endure his frustration.
“Well, we finished things up by promising to apologize next time, but I still don’t want to remember that moment.”
“Why would you apologize when the teacher was in the wrong?”
“You don’t have any guts.”
Gyunglim shook her head.
Maru barely held himself back from twitching his lips. Whose fault was it that made him talk about all this?
“You don’t have an experience like this, Gyunglim?”
Sungjae asked lightly. If you don’t, then forget it - he seemed to be implying. Gyunglim looked around before speaking in a small voice.
“I was teased in front of my friends for not speaking properly. I was just stuttering because I was a little nervous, too. Ever since that, I don’t like speaking in front of others. I’m fine when there are only a few people, but it does feel a little awkward if there are more than four or five. Of course, it’s fine once I get close to those people. So don’t look at me in a strange way. I just….”
“Then the fact that you acted cold to me even when I talked to you after class was not because you disliked me?” Sungjae asked with a smile.
Gyunglim slowly nodded.
“That’s good then. You can’t be the same as everyone else. Sorry for talking to you all the time without knowing how you felt. It was my way of trying to resolve the issue, but it must have pressured you instead.”
Gyunglim clenched her eyes shut after saying those words. She quickly followed up saying ‘no, that’s not what I meant’, but she was clearly a little too late.
“No wonder you misunderstood,” Maru said as he stared at Gyunglim.
Gyunglim abruptly raised her head and shook it.
“What did she misunderstand?” Sungjae asked.
Maru looked at Gyunglim, who was shaking her head vigorously, and Sungjae who was looking at him in a questioning light before grinning.
“I’ll tell you once I have the opportunity.”
He shrugged to Gyunglim who said ‘don’t’ without producing a sound.
* * *
“That family is strange.”
She read the title of the sitcom script several times over in a loud voice. It was the script she received from the TV station. Unlike when she went to have the audition, she was able to enter the building without feeling nervous. When she received the script sealed inside a paper envelope from the information desk, she ended up hopping on the spot without thinking about it. She still felt embarrassed when she thought about how people who were going in and out of the building were smiling while looking at her.
Just as she was looking at the script with satisfaction, her phone rang.
-Hey! Did you get your script?
The owner of the excited voice was Yoojin.
“Yeah, I got it.”
-Wow, so our Bunbun is finally going to appear on public TV now? How is it, have you looked at the script?
“I was just about to. I didn’t feel this when I received it since I was too happy, but it makes me nervous now that I’m actually going to open it. It feels like receiving my grade card.”
-I know that feeling. Open it now. See how many lines you have.
“I’m the neighbor that lives next door to the main characters’ house, so there probably aren’t that many lines.”
Now that she said those words, she felt once again that her role was rather vague. The next door neighbor of the main characters. It would be great if she appeared at least once per day.
-Do you have any appointments today?
-Then let’s hang out. Bring the script as well. I’ll practice with you.
-How is it? Aren’t I the only one that thinks about you?
She lied down on her bed and chuckled in a small voice.
“Yeah, you’re my only friend.”
-What the? You’re giving me goosebumps. What about Maru? Did he not call you?
“Well, we do call each other a lot.”
“...It’s been a while since we saw each other.”
-What? When was the last time you saw each other?
“I think it’s been more than a week at least. Maybe two weeks?”
-Oh my word.
“It looks like he’s busy. Not long before, I had to hang up first because he said he was just about to start a shoot.”
-I don’t think this is the right time for you to see me. Call Maru and have him come to you this instant.
-It’s not ‘should I?’ Just do it now.
She smiled and touched her hair before slowly speaking.
“Nah, it’s fine.”
“It’s late, and he should have his rest as well.”
-Hey, it’s only 5 right now. It’s not late at all. You were about to come out to meet me, weren’t you?
“Yeah, but still.”
She did want to see Maru. Although some of her friends told her that it would scratch her pride as a girl to ask the boy out first, she didn’t think so. They were dating because they liked each other, no? She didn’t understand how pride had anything to do with liking. It wasn’t like women were animals that were made to wait.
“I want to allow him to rest as much as possible. He sounded tired the last time I called him. It looks like action acting is quite hard. Also, he’s going around a lot taking minor actor roles. In fact, I feel like it’s rather fortunate that he didn’t pass the regional finals for the acting competition.”
-Are you Maru’s manager or something?
Hearing those words, she chuckled. It did feel like that a little.
“If I tell him I want to meet him right now, he’ll come straight to my house. Even in Suwon, we live on opposite ends. Also, he might be working in Seoul right now. I don’t want to tire him out even further.”
-What a faithful girl. What era do you think you’re in? You’re so considerate towards your husband.
“What’s up with you today?”
-I’m like this because it’s frustrating. At our age, we aren’t supposed to care about things like that and just meet whenever we want to. You can leave those miserable thoughts for when you’re a granny. Hey, come outside for now. I can’t take this. You need to get an earful from me.
“Fine, I’ll listen to you. Where shall we go?”
-I’m going to Suwon station right now, so meet me there.
“Suwon station? What brings you all the way here from Seoul?”
-It’s to meet you!
-I was just about to hold a congratulatory party for you, but I can’t take it anymore because it annoys me. Come out for now. Be prepared to receive my frustration, okay?
“Alright. Then see you in a bit.”
She smiled and hung up.
* * *
Maru stared at the whole course for a while. Grilled scallops, pickled seaweed, as well as sweetfish. It was served in some sort of wooden tray, and the decoration made him flabbergasted.
“The tuna tataki here is really good.”
“I think this also looks plenty good though.”
Maru picked up his chopsticks. This was his first time eating formal Japanese food in this life. Moreover, it was free. There would be no other blissful dinner than this. Just as he was about to poke into the pickled seaweed, he got a call. The screen had the caller’s name: Yoojin.
“Yeah, what is it?”
-Come to Suwon station this instant.
“I’m sorry, but I have a very important appointment right now.”
-What is it?
“I need to eat this beautiful piece of sweetfish.”
-So you’re eating dinner, huh?
-Since you sound leisurely, it doesn’t sound like you’re eating with people that you’re awkward with. Then come to Suwon station right now, Mr. Han Maru.
“I apologize, but I have to refuse.”
-Oh really, now? You’d better come though. I heard that you haven’t met her in two weeks, right? I called her just now, and while she said she’s okay, she sounded hella depressed.
-It pricks you, doesn’t it? It must. So come here right now. Do you know that she received her first sitcom script?
“That was today?”
-I knew this would happen. Geez, this is why men are…. They don’t have the slightest bit of delicacy. I’m hanging up, okay? Come here quickly.
Maru looked in front of him and put down his chopsticks, then, he grabbed the sweetfish in the middle of the vegetable flower with his fingers and put it in his mouth.
“Uhm, sorry everyone. Something important came up, so I think I’ll need to leave,” He abruptly stood up as he spoke.
Sungjae and Gyunglim were looking at him dumbfoundedly. Maru apologized to the two again before leaving the restaurant while munching on the sweetfish.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
A whole chapter about good food. Thanks author, (Midnight when I translated)
I'm starting to think that annoying 2 is actually stupid chaebol* 1.....
Also, Maru rushing to Bunbun means more fluffy time wooooo.
*chaebol = rich second gen or smth like that. My Korean knowledge comes from kdramas so...