A loved one passed away. He could sympathize with that. If it was in reality, he would’ve calmly listened to that person. If necessary, he might have bought some alcoholic drinks as well.
But how would Lee Chan act?
“I didn’t know that you went through such a thing.”
Maru lowered his gaze and breathed slowly through his nose. He was flustered, sorry, and felt sympathetic. He wouldn’t have carried out such a prank if he knew that the teacher-in-training’s lover had passed away. He was unlucky this time.
“Sorry, teacher. I’m really sorry.”
Dongho lowered his head and apologized. A rather sad smile appeared on Suyeon’s face, who stood with her back against the vending machine.
“No. I’m sorry. I made you panic didn’t I? Because I cried. It was all in the past, and I should’ve kept better control over my emotions as an adult, but I wasn’t able to.”
Maru raised his head as he heard those words. Actually, it was the teacher-in-training that made it a big deal. Had she not cried back there, Dongho wouldn’t be blamed by the other kids in class. Of course, Maru wouldn’t be blamed either.
Right now, an apology was wrapping things up nicely, but things had gotten too noisy despite it being just a prank. He felt sorry, yes, but the teacher-in-training didn’t do well either.
When he raised his head, he saw Suyeon who had teary eyes. She was acting like that again. Maru was about to frown, but then instead sighed and apologized once again. He didn’t want to scratch open a scabbed wound. He wanted to finish things up quickly, go home and study.
He bowed to the teacher-in-training one last time, feeling stuffy, before turning around. Dongho had remained behind. The moment he glanced back and left through the door, the director’s cut could be heard
Phew. He shook his head and scattered the annoyance and apologetic feelings remaining inside his heart.
Lee Chan was someone who already thought that he did not need guidance or protection. The reason that he didn’t cooperate with the teachers, and targeted them for his pranks was probably to get acknowledgment from the adults. Maru interpreted the character, Lee Chan, based on the writer’s intentions. From how the director gave him an okay sign for a few shoots without saying anything, it seemed that he found this character pretty good.
“That character is really like you, down to your cockiness. Tell me honestly. You weren’t acting, were you?” said Suyeon as she walked past him after the two-shot with Dongho.
Maru looked at her as she left towards the director after winking at him in a daze when,
“Ah, it’s finished,” said Dongho with an exhausted expression.
“Thanks for your work.”
“That’s the 8th episode over. I felt good since I got a lot of scenes, but I guess I won’t be able to anymore.”
“But once this goes live, I think people might start saying that Lee Chan is too cocky.”
“I hope to get that at least. That’s much better than not being talked about at all.”
“That’s true. I want to hear the word ‘touched’. I want the final version to be so good that the people watching it would cry. Then, I would become popular and people would start recognizing me. Oh, what do I do if people recognize me and ask me for an autograph?”
“Delusion is free.”
“Don’t feel so sad even if I become big first.”
After saying meaningless words to one another for a while, Dongho went into the classroom saying that he felt cold. The skies had turned yellow. It would soon turn purple and night would arrive. Everything would be finished after just one night scene, so he had to wait it out just a little longer.
From what he heard, Yeseul and Giwoo were going to shoot late into the night. Yeseul had been waiting from midday until now just because of a single scene where she appeared briefly and said a single line. Since the schedule prioritized the busy adult actors first, the waiting time of the comparatively free child actors was quite long.
He had to raise his value. An actor’s life was one where the body would become more comfortable the more valuable they were. There was even a drama that was delayed by a whole year in order to get a top star in their ranks, so in this field, the price of an actor was equivalent to power.
“The sun’s setting! Let’s get things done quickly!”
The time and the general environment were written on the script by the writer. There were cases where the director would change the script if the environmental variables didn’t fit, but most of the time, the director would respect the writer’s notes. Although there were occasionally some cases where new writers would be swayed by the director because they didn’t have any voice, writer Lee Hanmi, who wrote this drama, was one of the well-known writers in the industry, so it would be incredibly difficult to change the situation.
The reason Park Hoon told the staff to hurry was probably because of the next scene. That scene required the sky to be ‘sunset’.
Maru clasped his hands and blew warm air into them. His frozen hands warmed up a little. He really envied Jichan and Joomin, who were able to go home after that scene just now. He wanted to quickly go home and take a warm shower.
He watched the staff members move to the central staircase with the equipment for a while before going into the classroom.
That wasn’t a good combo - Maru thought as he looked at Yeseul, who was sitting in the front of the class, and Okseon, who was sitting at the back alternately, before walking towards the middle. That was because the heater was in the middle. Yeseul brightened up and walked towards the heater.
“Isn’t it cold out there? It’ll be April soon, isn’t it way too cold?”
“That’s just how Spring is. But we’re really fortunate that there’s a heater here. I wouldn’t know what it would be like without it.”
Right - Yeseul agreed before closing her mouth. The way she rolled her eyes indicated that she was looking for a topic of conversation. It would be great if she could just stay quiet if she didn’t have anything to say.
However, Yeseul broke his hopes very quickly.
“I always get shoots at night on days like this. It would be okay if I could shoot everything at once, but I have to come early since I always have a scene during the day too. It’s so tiring.”
“You can’t help it since we’re shooting everything on Sunday. You’re also one of the main characters.”
The words ‘main character’ were magical words that made Yeseul smile. Maru used those words from time to time, and so far, it was still valid. He could have a nice quiet rest just by making an annoying girl smile, so those words were very precious to him.
While Yeseul rolled the words ‘main character’ in her mouth, Maru opened his hands wide and got some warmth from the heater. He started feeling sleepy. After he yawned and looked at the heater for a while, he remembered Dongho, who said that he would return to the classroom first.
“He came in then left again. Maybe he went to the bathroom?”
Yeseul tilted her head. Tilting her head - she was doing that on purpose. She was expressing ‘I am cute’ with all of her body, and Maru could only smile awkwardly at that.
Even Dongho, who was at the most daring age, seemed scared of the cold energy flowing between these two girls. He took out his phone and sent a text message: Dongho, where are you?
-I came out to find you, where are you? Oh, don’t go into the classroom. Only Yeseul and Okseon are there. Dang, that was stifling.
He left a message telling him to come to the classroom before putting his phone inside his pocket. Okseon was reading a book at the back. During the three months of shooting, they occasionally held afterparties, and Okseon participated in every one of them. From the way she acted, however, she looked like she would never show up to any of them, but she unexpectedly had a high participation rate.
‘Though, it doesn’t change the fact that she’s quiet.’
He brought a chair and sat in front of the heater. He didn’t plan to talk to a girl who wanted to stay alone. He wasn’t here to play around, so if there weren’t any bad effects on the shoot, he didn’t care about individual personalities.
Though, that didn’t mean that everyone thought like him.
“Okseon, you should come here as well,” said Yeseul.
Maru sighed a little. She maintained a cold war-like state all this while and yet she talked to her with a friendly smile all of a sudden. Maru felt embarrassed since what she was trying to do was blatantly obvious.
I’m okay, no, you don’t need to mind me - Okseon said those words all the time.
“But it’s cold over there. You should come here and warm up a little.”
“You don’t need to mind me.”
“You really should. Did I do something wrong?”
“No, nothing like that happened.”
Maru heard this same conversation repeat over and over again during the past three months. Yeseul made a pitiful expression before looking at Maru and telling him in a small voice.
“Okseon seems to hate me. I did something wrong, right?”
How scary. She looked like she might as well be a politician. As long as she came up with a better situational context, she would be able to get a golden badge immediately.
Maru did not reply. It would be much easier for him if he snapped out and told her to stop being childish, but he might become a target of her ‘politics’ instead of Okseon if he did so. He didn’t plan to side with Okseon either, so it would be much better for him to stay quiet so that he neither scored nor lost points from her. ‘Turning a blind eye’ - that expression didn’t exist for no reason.
After hesitating for a while, Yeseul was about to say something more when Dongho opened the door and came into the classroom. He came at the perfect time. Maru pointed at an empty chair and told him to sit. Dongho sat down next to him while looking at the two girls.
“I’m going to the bathroom for a bit.”
The sacrificial lamb had arrived, so it was time for him to leave. Dongho, who was chosen as the sacrifice, widened his eyes in questioning light, but Maru lightly ignored him.
Maru looked at Yeseul, who started talking to Dongho as he closed the door. “Do your best, Amen,” he said quietly.
When he turned around he saw Giwoo. Maru shrugged. After taking a peek inside, Giwoo smiled as though he understood everything.
“Want some coffee?” he offered.
There was no reason to refuse since he was being treated. Looking at the staff members climbing up the stairs, they stood in front of the vending machine. Giwoo gave him a coffee cup.
“Remember what the director said during the day?” said Giwoo when Maru emptied about half of the coffee.
Maru didn’t know what he was talking about so he quietly stared at him.
“He said that my character is a bit similar to Lee Chan.”
He remembered now. Maru looked at Giwoo as he took a sip. Giwoo scratched his hair with an apologetic expression.
“I thought you might have misunderstood.”
“Overlapping characters - that’s not really a good thing, right? It’s my mistake, so I want to apologize before there’s any misunderstanding. I wasn’t trying to imitate you or anything. Things happened and I expressed myself in a similar way to you, so I thought that might be on your mind.”
“If it’s something like that, you don’t need to mind.”
He waved his hand sideways in the air. He did not like adding hand gestures like that, but he made a special exception for the kid in front of him. Giwoo’s lips twitched for a moment. Maybe he couldn’t control his expression because the answer was unexpected? Maru crumpled up his cup and threw it in the trash.
“I imitate people a lot of the time too. Isn’t everyone like that?”
“I guess that’s true, but still.”
“Originality stems from numerous imitations. That’s what all the popular people say. The director said that we give off a similar feel, but didn’t say that it was wrong. Did he?”
“Then I guess there’s no problem.”
Maru patted Giwoo on the shoulder before turning around. Those eyes just now, they were overflowing with hostility. The fact that there was no speech bubble above his head meant that he wasn’t thinking about Maru, so maybe he was angry at the situation itself? He had no interest in what Giwoo wanted, or what he was scheming. Maru didn’t think that badly of shedding crocodile tears to get everyone’s sympathy.
Who in the world showed what they were thinking in their heart entirely? Wasn’t life about wearing a mask or two all the time? Walking around bare-faced would only get the madman treatment or worse.
Imitating his acting? Sure, he could do that all he wanted to. It wasn’t like there was copyright on acting or something, and in the first place, the acting that Maru was showing was something he learned from someone else.
It was completely fine if Giwoo wanted to take it for himself.
He would be stealing and learning from someone else even if Giwoo tried to imitate him.
Life was about being just one step ahead of other people. Walking miles ahead like those geniuses would most of the time, make that person sick. A small bird had its own way of flying. Just one step. It would suffice as long as he could gain recognition from just that one step.
But maybe it would be good to say a word or two in order to prevent any bad events from happening.
Maru turned around and spoke,
“If it’s a toy you’re looking for, you should start looking into something else. I’m not an interesting toy.”
Toy - that word broke all of Giwoo’s pretenses. So he was indeed related to the guy that mercilessly stomped on the background actor’s hand, huh. Just finding that out meant that Maru had gained a lot from this conversation.
Maru winked at the crocodile that no longer shed tears and turned around. A speech bubble appeared above his head, but he didn’t bother reading it. He knew what it said without having to look at it.
 A golden badge signifies the status of a member of the National Assembly.
Oof, this Giwoo is starting to sound like Geunseok, but worse.
The person he's indebted to? The one that taught him the game? Is that who I think it is?
Man. This novel is great.