Chapter 77

“Did she just leave?”

“Yeah, I invited her, but she just left. Guess she’s busy.”

“Is that so?”

Soyeon responded with a saddened tone. It felt like the distance between her and Yurim was increasing. Yurim didn’t pick up most of Soyeon’s calls, and even if she did, her response centered around her being busy and hanging up.

“She must be on a date with Geunseok.”

“Are they really going out?”

Dojin nodded with an ‘of course’. Soyeon smiled, looking at the two friends next to her. The two of them got along almost like a couple. The thought of Yurim disappeared a little in her head, she should be able to settle the matter later.

“So, how is it? Is it good?”

Iseul asked with expectant eyes. She fit the vibe of the restaurant very well with her white towel around her head. Despite looking so much like a princess, too.

“Amazing.”

“Yeah, amazing.”

Soyeon gave the other girl a thumbs up. Indeed, the soup was delicious. Good enough for seconds. Iseul grinned after hearing the compliment, and shouted into the kitchen, ‘Mom! Dad! They like it!’

“Be sure to come often, okay?”

Iseul was a cute girl. At one point, Soyeon was jealous of the other girl. No, she actually disliked Iseul. She was certain that all cute girls were foxes inside. But contrary to her prejudice, Iseul turned out to be a very relaxed person.

‘She’s pretty, and she has a nice personality. Isn’t that too much?’

Today especially, Soyeon felt a little loathful of her stomach. She never disliked her physique, but she felt embarrassed whenever she was standing next to Iseul. Today was no exception, she felt a sense of shame along with her embarrassment. As she continued talking with the others, the last person arrived.

“I’m here! Hi!”

It was Taejoon. Iseul smiled, giving the boy a light jab at his stomach. She sat Taejoon next to Soyeon, which made Soyeon nervous for no reason.

“Soyeon, it’s me.”

“Ah, hey.”

“How is it? Does it live up to your expectations? Iseul wasn’t hyping it up?”

“Yeah, it’s good.”

Taejoon was nice to everyone. He was giving her attention, as proof of that fact. He probably wants to talk to Iseul more.

‘Come on, Soyeon. Stop overthinking. They’re all nice people.’

Soyeon stopped herself from turning to look at Taejoon. She wanted to keep her crush on Taejoon a secret. What would the other kids think if word got out?

‘They’d make fun of me.’

They’d laugh at her, telling her that he was way out of her league. They might not mean offense when they talk, but hurtful words were still painful. So she removed the possibility to begin with. Taejoon should stop talking to her if she didn’t look at him.

“Did you drop something in that soup? Why are you staring at it?”

“Eh? Ah, it’s nothing.”

Gosh, why was the boy talking so much to her? She looked up to try and change the topic, but… she noticed Dojin and Daemyung exchanging looks with a grin.

‘Could it be...’

Did it already begin? She felt embarrassed. Was she being too obvious? She tried to act normal, but it wasn’t easy.

“Tasty, right?” She found herself asking.

Dojin nodded with a smile, and that was it. She turned to look at Daemyung out of sheer awkwardness, but the boy was getting ready to leave for some reason.

“We need to make a call real quick. I think we might be able to call Maru here.”

“Take me with you.”

Dojin and Daemyung took off together. Soyeon couldn’t even say anything. Taejoon was still next to her, and her soup was disappearing quickly. What should she do? Should she just order more soup and stuff it down her gullet?

About when she thought this much, Taejoon became quiet.

‘......’

Things only grew more awkward between each other. So he won’t even talk to her without others around them. Soyeon could only pray for Dojin and Daemyung to return quickly.

* * *

Iseul chopped up some sausages before putting it in a container.

“You should rest a bit, you have friends here,” her mom commented.

Iseul shook her head.

“Ugh, mom, can’t you see what’s happening over there?”

Iseul pointed at the table with Taejoon and Soyeon. Her mom smiled immediately.

“Are they going out?”

“Nope, it’s a one-sided love.”

“The guy, huh?”

“Right? Right? But the girl doesn’t know at all.”

“She doesn’t? With him being that obvious?”

“Yeah. Soyeon never looks at Taejoon. Especially when they’re alone. Hehe.”

“You should tell her, then.”

“I should, but… That’s not fun.”

“And the other kids just left to set the mood?”

“Yeah. I mean, we came here just for this today. Oh, that and promoting our restaurant.”

“Oh my, my daughter’s become a true merchant, I see.”

“Whose daughter do you think I am?”

“Mine, obviously.”

Iseul’s dad shouted from a different room in the kitchen.

“What about me?”

Iseul smiled before directing her attention back to the table. Soyeon was still looking down at her bowl of soup. Taejoon, on the other hand, was fiddling with his spoon with a stiff expression.

“A-hem! Springtime of youth!”

Things would immediately get heartwarming and romantic if Iseul told Soyeon what was going on, but… then the club would be deprived of entertainment.

‘Well, it all ends today, though.’

Taejoon promised himself. He would confess to Soyeon before today ends.

* * *

“Hah.”

“What’s up?”

Daemyung looked at Dojin standing next to him.

“Everyone else is finding their girlfriends and boyfriends, and here I am, what I was thinking.”

“......”

“Iseul doesn’t seem interested in getting into a relationship, the seniors all seem to have their matches, but me on the other hand… Ah, my springtime is rotting away.”

“Romance doesn’t account for all of your youth, you know.”

“It isn’t, but it does account for a significant part of it. Daemyung, Maru is our only hope. I’m sure he got that girl’s number that time. We need to make use of that.”

Daemyung shook his head.

“I’m n-not that interested.”

“Liar. Cross your heart and tell me. Every dude with a dick wants love, yo.”

Dojin spoke with exaggeration as he would on stage, some of the pedestrians turned to look at them as a result. Daemyung became embarrassed, and quickly started walking away.

“Hey! Don’t leave me alone, dude. I feel embarrassed.”

“O-oh, so you’re aware that you’re an embarrassment?”

“...Yeah.”

The two of them entered a convenience store nearby.

“Taejoon was confessing today, right? You think he would’ve done it by now?”

“Dunno.”

Daemyung was pretty surprised when Taejoon informed the group of his plan. Taejoon? Liking Soyeon? Even more surprising, everyone else already knew about this?

‘Maybe I’m just slow.’

A girlfriend… Just thinking about it made Daemyung a little excited.

“Oh, it’s Maru,” Dojin said, taking out his phone.

After exchanging a few words, Dojin ended the call with a ‘meet you at the station’.

“Maru’s done with work?”

“Yeah. And here I thought he couldn’t make it. Anyway, to think he’d give up being with a pretty lady to hang with us instead… He’s a bit odd himself.”

Daemyung thought of Soojin. The woman was incredibly pretty, he remembered. She was the manifestation of purity itself, as a matter of fact. After a while of waiting, Maru came into the convenience store himself, with his hands in his pockets.

“Let’s go,” he said, before walking back out.

“How was work?”

“It was alright. It ended pretty fast, which was why I called you. What are you doing here, by the way?”

Dojin gestured at the restaurant nearby.

“They’re in there right now.”

“Ah. How was Taejoon?”

“I honestly wanted to take a picture.”

Daemyung smiled, too, remembering Taejoon’s expression. The boy’s frozen face was an uncharacteristic expression.

“We’ll probably have to wait then, huh?”

“Probably?”

* * *

And yet again, they were at a bar. Miso grinned, looking at Taesik sitting next to her. Just looking at him made her happy, the fact that this man was hers made her even happier.

“So, how has practice been?”

“Ugh, what’s up with the guys around me and the acting club? Aren’t you interested in me? Also, that politeness thing! Can’t you try fixing it?”

“I’m sorry. No, sorry.”

Miso shook her head.

“Well, practice is perfect for now. My use of the word ‘perfect’ should give you a pretty good sense of what’s happening.”

“Yeah, I can see it.”

“It’s going to be different from the first competition. Plus, Maru’s here too.”

“So the prelims aren’t going to be a problem?”

“If it is, I’m going to leave the industry.”

She was confident. Really. They were on a highway to the finals, and they would take first place as well.

“A comedy… isn’t it difficult?”

“It is. But that’s what makes us special. If we win at the nationals this winter, we’re going to sweep up every award. Just watch!”

“That'd be nice. Would be something nice to brag about.”

“Oh my, Mr. Advisor. Were you having a hard time?”

“I mean, I wouldn’t have to care so much about what the other teachers think of me.”

Watching Taesik complain was a little cute. Miso couldn’t resist pinching his cheek.

“Don’t you worry, mister. I’ll change what the school thinks of your club with this.”

Just you watch. That first place plaque was going to have the name ‘Blue Sky’ engraved on it.

* * *

Maru went back to his room after a quick shower. After checking his homework, he opened a book related to acting. Some of them were books recommended by Miso, and others were scripts from Ganghwan. The scripts from Ganghwan were the copies used by the man himself, so it was loaded with a bunch of notes written on the sides.

[Use it as reference.]

That was what Ganghwan told him as he gave Maru the scripts. For Maru, this script lined with red and blue notes was the best teacher he could ever ask for. For the last two months, Maru diverted 20% of his time into school, and the rest all into acting. He decided to work hard for three years. He did make a deal, after all.

...Or at least, that’s what he thought at first. He thought he made a great deal, what with him being able to meet his wife through this and all. But after meeting both Junmin and Ganghwan, something’s changed.

He still thought this was a good deal, and he was still going to try hard. But now, he had motivation. That is, motivation to be on stage. As a matter of fact, looking at Ganghwan’s script made him think of something Junmin told him in the past.

[I’ll be waiting until you start acting not because of money, but because of passion. I guarantee it’ll be interesting. For the both of us.]

Maru closed the script and lay down on his bed. There was a week until the prelims for the winter competition. He could see the glow light stickers stuck on the ceiling. The moon sticker was glowing faintly. The moon couldn’t shine by itself.

‘But if it becomes able to...’

Then, like Junmin said, things would get very interesting. Maru closed his eyes. That night, he dreamed. There was a man on a stage, wearing a black and white mask on his face. He raised his hands to the sky as he spoke,

“Did you like the choices I gave you?”

Maru could only smile in the dream.

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