New school, new class, new friends . The students were now beginning their third Saturday of the semester . The day when they could really familiarize themselves with their club .
The school was a massive proponent for club activities . Most likely because it significantly reduced the number of juvenile crimes after clubs were established . Of course, there were rumors that the school were ignoring certain crimes to begin with, but… having the clubs for sure did bring some improvement .
Every Saturday was a half day of school, with the other half being taken over by club activities . The last Saturday of every month would be completely dedicated to clubs as well . As a matter of fact, every Saturday of every even numbered month were completely dedicated to clubs .
The class was pretty loud . They were pretty excited after hearing that tonkatsu was being served for lunch . Five minutes were left before lunch began… The Korean teacher smiled mischievously .
“You guys want lunch, right?”
“Of course we do!”
“You were good today, so I’ll let you out a few minutes early . Don’t bother the other classes though, alright?”
The teacher was an expert at dealing with kids . Maru took a look at his watch . It was three minutes before class ended . The kids started sneaking out carefully . Almost as if they were in a spy film . It felt really nice . At least, to be able to have fun doing this kind of stuff again . But just as he was about to get out of the classroom, something caught his eye .
It was Dowook . The boy was sitting dumbly by himself . No one was asking to go with him . After last Saturday, Dowook became a quiet kid . His friends all left him . He stood up quietly with his hands in his pockets .
And then his eyes met with Maru’s .
“ . . . . . . . ”
He walked out with the other kids without a word . Well, that was a surprise . Maru expected that Dowook would say something, at least .
“What’s up with that guy?” Dojin asked .
“What, you worried?”
“Of course I am . It’d be better if he was an asshole like before . It’s annoying watching him be depressed like that . ”
Maru put his hand over Dojin’s shoulder and one over Daemyung as well .
Dojin shook his shoulder, but Maru didn’t let go .
“Let’s go . ”
“Hah, yo Daemyung, you wanna just throw this guy away?”
“We could, yeah . ”
They got along pretty well now . Maru responded by pulling the two of them towards him .
“Come on, man . We’re friends . ”
“The hell, Maru? Why are you so strong?”
“Seriously . ”
Dojin and Daemyung tried to escape but to no avail . Maru glanced at his own arms . He was clearly stronger than before . He remembered being strong for sure, but not to this extent . It didn’t feel like he got physically stronger, no . It just felt like he had better control of his strength . He could feel that his muscle sensitivity and reflexes were better than ever before .
‘It’s not on the level of an athlete, but it’s definitely up there . ’
It probably had to do with one of the abilities he was given .
“Let’s go, we’re gonna be late . ”
Maru started running . He was at the end of the corridor already . Early bird gets the worm, as they say . He was only a hundred meters out from the cafeteria .
“Dude! Maru! Dojin! Wait for me!”
Poor Daemyung . He was left behind . Maru and Dojin turned back to show the poor boy a sign of their unending friendship: a middle finger .
“We’ll see you later!”
Friendships could go to hell if food was involved .
* * *
“Huff, huff . You guys are too much, seriously, huff . ”
Daemyung appeared behind them, short of breath .
“Yo, we just ran ahead to save a spot for you, man . You should exercise more . ”
“ . . . . . . ”
“You should play less games . No, no . Why don’t we start playing basketball from today?”
“I can’t play basketball though . ”
“It’s okay, you’ll learn quick if you’re punched enough . ”
“ . . . ?!”
Daemyung stared at Dojin dumbly, who responded with a grin . This was pretty nice . Daemyung was a popular kid in class now . After all, in a boy’s class, the only things to talk about were girls, soccer, and games . Daemyung happened to be an absolute master at the game that he played, so his popularity was inevitable .
The boy’s face didn’t have any of that timidness from the beginning anymore .
“Who the hell knows? We might need a chubby actor for the play,” Maru said, shoving another spoonful of rice into his mouth .
It was a Saturday, the day the club got together again . He was pretty excited on finding out what they were going to do today .
“I wonder if we’re finally going to choose our play?” Daemyung seemed excited too .
“Speaking of which, did you join the club to become an actor, Daemyung?” Dojin asked . The boy slowly extended his hand out towards Daemyung’s bottle of yakult .
“Yeah . I wanted to try it,” Daemyung responded with a slap on Dojin’s hand .
“I was thinking of becoming the lead, but gave up . That Geunseok dude’s definitely set to become the lead at this rate . ”
“Honestly? Yeah . ”
The two of them looked up with a jealous glint in their eyes .
Hong Geukseok . For sure, the guy was different from all the other kids . He came to this school solely to join the acting club . That took conviction . Conviction that Maru liked seeing .
“I went to the design class yesterday . There were so many girls . Like, more girls than guys for both classes . ” Dojin continued .
“Oho, Mr . Daemyung, you interested?”
“ . . . . . ”
Daemyung blushed pretty quickly . Man, he kind of sucks at acting . Maru took a swig from his bottle of yakult . It was almost time for them to go to the club . They finished their greetings last week, so they’d spend this week working properly .
He stood up with the food tray with all the other kids . He could see some of the other kids getting up to leave the cafeteria as well .
Out of the corner of his eye, he caught Dowook eating by himself .
“ . . . . . . . ”
Dojin clicked his tongue annoyedly .
“What, you starting to like him or something?” Maru asked .
“I have no idea . ”
Dojin left to return his tray . Daemyung was looking at Dowook with a saddened expression .
“I don’t like that guy . He was pretty mean . But . . . ”
“I never wanted to see him like that . ”
Maru knew very well what Dowook did to Daemyung . The boy took over Daemyung’s seat by force . Clearly intent on bullying the other boy in the future as well .
Suddenly, Dowook looked up to meet his eyes with Maru’s . Daemyung looked away, but Maru decided to hold his gaze . Dowook glared his way for a few more seconds before turning away first, looking back down on his tray like a scared animal . That was enough . Maru didn’t want to see any more of this .
“Let’s go . ”
“Y-yeah . ”
It would be better not to talk to him right now . Maru looked over Dowook one more time before going outside .
* * *
Dowook didn’t have an appetite . He returned his half-eaten tray of food before heading out . It’s been four days since he started eating alone . He tried to think nothing of it at first, but it turned out to be harder than he thought .
He could feel other people make fun of him . Insult him . Dowook ran away to the deli . He was still hungry . But when he rounded the corner, he happened upon Changhu’s group . Their eyes met .
Changhu grinned at him mockingly . He just passed by without saying another word . Dowook was relieved . At least he wasn’t made fun of .
How did this happen?
He bought himself some bread and sat down to eat it in front of the deli, but he saw his classmates coming from the other side . He didn’t want to be seen eating in front of them, so he hid his bread behind his back .
Why, he had no idea . It was like his body was acting against his will . He sat down on a random bench he found and chewed on the bread . It was tasty . It was tasty, but… .
“Hah, fuck . ”
Why did he feel so lonely?
* * *
Maru discovered Dowook eating by himself from the second floor window .
‘Man, he looks like a total outsider . ’
An outsider since high school… . Some of the other kids in the class found Dowook as well, and clicked their tongues in disapproval . Some were even laughing .
“Fucking knew it, that childish fucker . ”
“Did he really think his middle school antics would work in high school?”
They all commented before returning to their original conversations . Dowook wasn’t even worth talking about right now .
Maru tapped at the windowsill as he thought . Having a rhythmic beat to listen to helped him think . Dowook… The little carnivore forced into independence prematurely .
‘You should really stop drop your act and let out your thoughts for a second, man . Is it really that embarrassing to live like a herbivore?’
Surely Dowook didn’t want to live by himself for the rest of his three years here . Maru stepped away from the window . He wanted to help, sure . But Dowook wasn’t willing to accept the help to begin with . The bell rang across the school, signalling him to head over to the club .
* * *
Daemyung was worried that people might hear the sound of his heart beating . All because of the girl standing next to him . She had playful eyes, full lips, and brown hair . Yurim had managed to hit all the bells in his mind .
“Hey Daemyung, can you move a little?”
“Y-yeah . ”
Daemyung took a look at Soyeon, who was sitting on Yurim’s other side . She was pretty chubby, like the dolls that little girls played with . Honestly, she felt more like a little brother rather than an actual girl of his age . He spoke with Soyeon quite a bit already . Perhaps due to their similar physique? Yurim seemed completely uninterested in their conversations however .
‘I can’t even gather up the courage to talk to her, though . ’
Daemyung gave Yurim another glance before looking to his left . Iseul was sitting there . She was talking with Taejoon, the handsome boy . He didn’t dare try to join in on the conversation . He just wouldn’t fit in if he did .
Iseul was almost terrifyingly pretty . Pretty enough to make people around her feel about themselves . Taejoon, too, looked handsome enough to be a child actor . Hanging out with those two would only give others the opportunity to make fun of him .
“Park Daemyung, was it?” Taejoon suddenly asked .
That was surprising . Daemyung didn’t expect to be talked to like that . He didn’t recall ever actually speaking to the other boy before . They had their greetings and cleaned the club room together, sure, but didn’t actually end up doing much else .
“Y-yeah . Daemyung . ”
“Nice name . I like people with ‘myung’ in their names . ”
“I-is that so?”
Well, that was a really weird complement . Myung is cool? Was he joking? Probably not . Taejoon looked completely serious .
‘Ah, you idiot . Why do you keep assuming negative things when friends talk to you?’
He really needed to fix that habit . If it wasn’t for Maru he would’ve become a complete loner because of this . Daemyung smiled, garnering attention from Iseul as well .
“Do you remember my name?” Iseul asked him .
Of course he did . He shook his head, though . It felt embarrassing to actually admit it .
“I’m Kim Iseul . In computers . ”
“Ah, yeah . ”
“You look cute . ”
“Haha . ”
Well, that felt good to hear . A cute girl like her smiled at him . His chest felt like it was about to explode . Today felt like a good day .