Haha, Giwoo stroked his hair upwards and laughed for a while before calming down his breathing.
“I see, so that’s how it is, huh.”
He punched the vending machine with his left hand. The more he thought about it, the more interesting it was. Giwoo smacked the vending machine until he felt pain from his left hand. A low thud could be heard.
His hand was scraped by the vending machine and was bleeding. Giwoo brought the wound to his mouth and licked it before taking out a handkerchief from his pocket to wipe it off. The vending machine was a little crumpled, but it wasn’t noticeable since it looked old. Giwoo threw the bloodstained handkerchief into the trash next to the vending machine. He had to calm himself down. Giwoo smiled and entered the building. He went straight across the corridor to the central entrance, where he saw Hwang Joonghoon coming out of the classroom.
“Father, did you finish your shoot?”
“Yes, it just ended.”
“Thank you for your work.”
“That wasn’t anything much. Are you shooting late into the night?”
“Yes. I’ll probably go home while looking at the moon today.”
“You’re working even harder than me, huh. But it’s better to be busy. There are many people who can’t work despite wanting to.”
“That’s why I always come to this school with an appreciative mind. Oh, it is really cold outside. Are you going to go like that? Don’t you walk home?”
“It wasn’t that cold though.”
“It’s even colder than it was in the morning. Wait a bit.”
Giwoo smiled and ran to the classroom on the 2nd floor. He opened the door and went inside to find the others sitting next to the heater. He met eyes with Maru for a brief moment, but they didn’t exchange words. From the look of things, it didn’t seem like he talked about unnecessary things to them.
So he knew his place - Giwoo thought that as he picked up his scarf before running down to the first floor again. He gave the scarf to Hwang Joonghoon who waited for him at the door.
“Put this on.”
“You don’t have to do this.”
“We can’t have you catching a cold. It will ruin our shooting schedule.”
“So you aren’t worried about me, but the shoot, huh?”
“Was it obvious?”
Hwang Joonghoon smiled in satisfaction before waving his hand. Giwoo bowed and saw him out. He felt eyes looking at him from behind. They belonged to the actors and the staff members. Giwoo then walked up the stairs again with a calm expression. He had to leave as soon as possible if he showed a good side. If he lingered around, the image of the ‘good kid’ he had acted until now would lose power. Even the people that didn’t look at him in a good light three months ago, now looked at him like it was natural. Putting up pretenses worked on people if repeated for a long time.
Giwoo opened his phone and opened his contacts list. He found the name Lee Uljin among the names and sent him a text.
-Don’t call me in the future. And delete my number as well.
The club lost a member, but he didn’t feel that bad about it. Uljin was a kid with potential, but he did a poor job at keeping it a secret. He lacked caution during Apgu and Maru ended up finding out. Thanks to that, Giwoo was receiving suspicion as well. No, those eyes looked like he was convinced, not suspicious.
Giwoo erased the name Lee Uljin from his contacts list. He also sent out a notification to the club members that knew Uljin. That he wouldn’t care if they meet that guy on a personal basis, but they shouldn’t talk about the club.
-Giwoo. I succeeded. The toy you talked about last time. I finally broke it.
Giwoo smiled when he saw the text message. He felt excited when he thought back to the pleasure he felt when he broke his first toy. Congratulations - Giwoo sent back.
-What do I do now?
The excitement could be felt from those words. Giwoo understood that guy. However, he couldn’t be hasty here. The most important rule of this ‘game’ was that it had to be secretive.
-Take a break for now. And keep a close eye on the toy, so that things won’t go bad. If a problem occurs because of the toy, that’s just absurd.
-Take a break? That’s a little unfortunate but okay. This game is too fun. I want to find a new toy quickly.
-The longer the wait, the greater the joy. For now, look out around you. Things might get out of hand.
Giwoo put his phone inside his pocket. Since this was an obedient kid, there shouldn't be a problem.
‘I should try calling him once the shoot ends.’
Texts were limited. He wanted to hear about how the toy was broken, and what that moment was like in a lively voice. From what he heard last time, the toy was a son of the assistant manager at a cooperating company. Did he break that guy mentally? Or break an arm or something just like he wanted? Personally, he liked breaking the mind rather than the body. Breaking the body would leave obvious signs, but the mind wasn’t like that. Looking at a person who gave up on everything with an empty gaze was frighteningly fun.
Father said that he had to understand the opponent truly. He wholly agreed with those words. Only when he sympathized could he enjoy that despair.
‘Now that I think about it, I didn’t find any new toys recently since I was busy.’
The manager he fired recently ended too blandly and he didn’t get the full fun out of it. It would be great if he started weeping, or going mad, even.
Giwoo thanked the fact that he was born in this world whenever he saw an adult wailing like a little child and begging him. He would feel touched when he looked at them praying for that slightest ray of hope. That was because the more desperate they were, the more exciting they looked when their hopes were smashed.
He really appreciated the person that told him about this game. He was indebted to that person. If the opportunity arose, Giwoo would pay him back in full.
Of course, through a game.
“This place is the warmest, huh,” said Giwoo as he opened the classroom door; looking at the people that may potentially become his toys.
* * *
He heard the name ‘Lee Chan’ to death, but after episode 3 aired, his classmates calmed down a little. They would pester him to introduce them to Yeseul or Joomin from time to time, but when he called them and tried to give them the phone, all of them would shake their heads and refuse to take the call. These high school boys were very shy.
Unlike his classmates, who had quietened down somewhat, people from other departments and classes came around to visit, but they didn’t actually talk to him. They only looked at him from afar before leaving. Maru understood what it felt like to be a monkey at a zoo.
“Do you have a shoot today?”
As soon as end-of-the-day HR finished, Daemyung came in through the back door. Maru shook his head. He usually shot around four days every week, but if the Saturday and Sunday shoots went well, there would be no weekday shoots. The three main characters, though, Yeseul, Giwoo, and Jichan of course had shoots on weekdays.
“Then can you help me out today?”
“Who am I to refuse? But I’m on cleaning duty today so I’ll go up after that.”
Maru changed into shorts and went to the bathroom. Thanks to bad luck with draws, he had to wash the bathroom for three consecutive weeks. He grabbed his classmates who played around with the cleaning brushes and assigned them their areas and then finished the cleaning quickly.
“Hey, Han Maru. Let’s go get some tteokbokki. This bro will treat you.”
“I have to go up today.”
“It’s the acting club again?”
“Acting at school and outside the school. You might become a ghost of acting at this rate. But anyway, good luck with that.”
After sending his classmates off, he took his bag and went to the 4th floor.
The acting club managed to reclaim their original clubroom which they lost last year. The constellation research club used this room last year, but they were discovered drinking soju inside the clubroom, so the club was disbanded this year. As luck would have it, the acting club got this space again.
He looked at the sign that said ‘acting club’ before opening the door. There was no one inside. There were only bags. He thought that the room was quite small since just placing the bags filled up the whole room, but also thought that it was better than nothing as he closed the door.
He moved to the 5th floor. The large hall was still being used by the baseball club, which didn’t make it past the preliminaries for two years in every competition they participated in. Due to that, there were talks about how the funding for the baseball club might stop if they didn’t produce any results this year either.
Maru remembered back to when he went to meet the principal and the head director with Taesik. Taesik used his name, saying that it was an opportunity to raise the school’s name value through him, while he sat there smiling without doing anything since he couldn’t just leave. Thanks to that, the acting club received permission to use the hall for their practice when the baseball club wasn’t using it.
That was good.
Last year, when there were only six of them, it was possible to practice in the classroom. However, this year….
Maru slowly opened the door to the hall. What he first saw were the exercise machines located in one corner, and then the kids that were lined up next to them.
He heard loud voices. It had been two weeks since Maru received this kind of greeting from his juniors, but he couldn’t get used to it no matter how hard he tried.
“Seonbae, you’re here.”
Aram, who was teaching the first year students some exercises, came up to him. Maru looked at the first year students who could be seen over her shoulders. Thirty-two. That was a big number. That was more than five times that of last year. Even the large hall looked small now.
“Looks like you don’t have a shoot today, huh.”
“I don’t. Also, can you stop them from greeting me like that?”
“They’re imitating Bangjoo, so don’t come to me about it.”
So that guy was the source of this huh. Maru scratched his eyebrows and walked inside. Numerous pairs of eyes looked at him. He really couldn’t get used to this.
“Where’s everyone else?” he asked as he sat down in a corner.
“Bangjoo and Jiyoon went to buy some kimbap. Dowook-seonbae said he had something to do today and left early, while Daemyung-seonbae came, but went to the container.”
“Why did he go there all of a sudden?”
“I’m not sure. Teacher Taesik came by and said something to him, and after listening to him, he was really startled and went to the container.”
What could be happening? Maru nodded for now and pointed at the first year students.
“Do what you were doing before. Don’t mind me.”
“How about you teach them?”
“It’s not good for someone who rarely shows up to give them instructions. You do it.”
The thirty-two people, standing in a circle, were following Aram’s actions. He thought that things might be different this year as he looked at the kids.
Just then, the door abruptly opened. The moment he saw the face of the person that rushed through the door, Maru understood the reason why Daemyung went to the container. He fled. Maru was sure of it.
“Wow! That’s a lot!”
Coming in with a cheerful shout, the one that appeared wearing a blue jersey was Miso.
Maru lowered his head and walked towards the door as carefully as possible while sticking close to the wall.
When the wide open doors were just in front of him, a voice made him stiff.
“Maru, where are you going? We should do some workouts.”
Maru made an awkward smile as he looked at Miso, who was twitching her finger, beckoning him to come obediently.
“Aren’t you busy?”
“I’m on vacation.”
“Why don’t you rest if you’re on vacation? There’s not long until your wedding.”
“This is a vacation for me. Wow, I felt like things went to hell after leaving this club to that girl Suyeon. Blue Sky really needs to be managed by this big sister.”
Miso seemed happy as though she was a fish that found water.
Maru took out his phone, desperately hoping that there was a schedule he missed. However, there was no way he missed something like that. Just then, he saw Daemyung, who was peeking over from the central staircase.
Maru made the evilest grin he had ever made and pointed his finger. Daemyung shook his head before getting ready to run.
“Senior. The club president is right there.”
Nope, you aren’t getting away by yourself - Maru pointed at Daemyung. Miso twitched her eyebrows and spoke,
“Mister chubby over there, come here while this noona is still in a good mood. Or should we start off with twenty laps after all this time?”
Daemyung, standing at the tip of the staircase, came back in large strides.
“I have. But why did you try to run away? You almost made me sad.”
“I-it’s not like that. I had something to check in the container.”
“Then I guess I misunderstood. Daemyung, come here quickly. You missed me a lot, didn’t you?”
“Eh? Ah, yes. O-of course. I missed you.”
Maru coughed before speaking,
“Uhm, senior. I have a shoot today, so I need to get going.”
“Han Maru. Have you forgotten that we belong to the same company?”
“Don’t tell me you checked?”
“I asked Mr. Byungchan about it already. I was actually planning to come yesterday, but delayed it to today when I heard that you wouldn’t be available. The first greetings should be done when everyone’s around, don’t you think?”
What a meticulous woman. Maru gave up and stood next to Miso. Miso, standing between Maru and Daemyung, hung her arms around both of them.
“Hello everyone. I’m Yang Miso. I’m a really calm and kind woman. I look the part, don’t I?”
The first year students, who didn’t know what was in store for them, just seemed to think that she was an interesting person and nodded while laughing. Maru stroked down his face and sighed.
“Well then. Let’s get started, shall we? Let’s go outside.”
Miso dragged Maru and Daemyung by their collars. Maru started walking with the mindset of a cow that was being dragged to the slaughterhouse.
“A light ten laps. Let’s have a look at your stamina,” said Miso like it was something light.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Maru & Miso banter coming!