He was sure after calling Jiseok. Something had happened to her. Maru, who nervously tapped his feet, eventually sighed and leaned back. He didn’t want to force her to tell him what happened when she didn’t want to. Like Jiseok said, she was not a little kid. Although she made others worry by acting like a three-year-old sometimes, she wasn’t someone that couldn’t take care of herself. If she really had a hard time, she would probably come to him herself. His role would probably be to listen to her and encourage her when the time comes.
The coach slowed down until it eventually stopped. They had arrived at Yeouido station. He woke Bangjoo up. After waking up, Bangjoo yawned. Joon-gi and Sooyoung, who sat behind him, g.r.o.a.n.e.d as they woke up.
“My waist hurts.”
“It’s not surprising considering that you’ve been asleep for four hours. Let’s get off. We’re here.”
He dragged Bangjoo, who was still half asleep and staggering, off the coach. Just as the background actors and minor actors were saying their goodbyes, there was a simple roll call.
“Thank you everyone and you may go home now.”
“Thank you for your work.”
It was midnight. The last train shouldn’t have gone past yet, but the city buses should have stopped for the night.
“Bangjoo, when we arrive at Suwon, take the taxi home. I’ll give you the fares. You two live in Seoul, don’t you?”
Joon-gi and Sooyoung nodded. They told Maru that taking the taxi would only cost the minimum fare.
“Get going then. You worked hard.”
“Be careful on your way home too. See you next time.”
They poured over a month of action scene practice into just two days of shoots. There were three band-aids on Maru’s arm, and the four of them probably used up two bottles of spray pain relief. Whether they showed as much as they learned couldn’t be seen until the movie was released.
“Hey, want to eat something before you go?”
Joon-gi took out a 10 thousand won bill and pointed at the 24-hour kimbap restaurant. When he looked at Bangjoo, he was nodding vigorously. There were still forty minutes until the last train, so it should be fine to get some food.
“I won’t reject your offer since you’re treating us.”
Maru stood in front of the pedestrian crosswalk in order to cross the road. Just then, a van stopped right before the crossing. It wasn’t waiting for the signal. At that time, the lights turned green.
“Let’s get going.”
Just as they started walking forward, the van’s headlights turned on its full beam. A blinding amount of light appeared right in front of their eyes.
“What kind of thoughtless person turns on the high beam right in front of people?” Sooyoung grumbled.
Maru frowned and looked at the van. Just then, one of the windows opened before an arm reached out. The fingers flicked. It clearly looked like it was gesturing for them to come.
“Isn’t that Lee Hyuk’s van?”
Listening to Joon-gi and Sooyoung’s conversation, Maru pointed at the van with his chin. He wanted them to come, so they did. He moved towards the van with the others. Just like what Joon-gi said, Lee Hyuk was inside.
The main actor that they never got to even talk to during the shoot was now reaching out to them, huh. Maru replied for now.
“That’s good to see. I also had a lot of friends when I was as small as you. Practicing together, too. Good times. But are you going to go eat there?”
Lee Hyuk pointed at the kimbap restaurant across the street.
“Yes. We’re going to eat a light meal before we go home.”
“Really? Then I guess I can’t sit back and watch as a senior.”
Lee Hyuk rummaged through the bag on the next seat and took out five notes of ten thousand won bills. Was he too cautious for nothing? He heard that Lee Hyuk’s personality was crappy so he was worried that he was picking a fight, but from his actions, it seemed that he was generous towards his juniors.
“Here, you should eat a lot since you’re still growing up.”
The hand that held the five notes poked out through the window. Lee Hyuk waved the notes like he would a fan.
“Let’s eat pork cutlets,” Bangjoo spoke with an excited voice.
Sooyoung, meanwhile, politely thanked him. Maru also lowered his head in gratitude before reaching out to receive the money. Just then, the money started falling to the ground. After looking at the notes that landed on the ground, he looked back at Lee Hyuk.
“But you know, these days, juniors don’t act like they’re supposed to.”
It seemed that he didn’t do that on accident. Everyone seemed to have gotten a gist of the situation as they looked at Lee Hyuk with displeased gazes. Maru stood in front of Bangjoo for now. He didn’t know what he would do after all.
“I’m not sure what you mean.”
Maru spoke as the representative of the other three who fell silent.
“Brats. Are you entitled to talk to the director like that? Huh? You boys don’t seem to know your place. You simply lose sight of your seniors because the director treats you well, huh?”
So he does have a crappy personality. Maru sighed inwardly.
He had to do just as the director told him to, but little kids much younger than him ‘dared to’ have feedback sessions with the director - or so he seemed to be thinking? It shouldn’t be. That was too one-dimensional and funny. There should be a limit to how childish a person could be.
“Do you not see why your seniors are staying silent? What do you know when you just started acting? Do you think you are someone special because the director treats you well?”
Maru barely held himself back from laughing. He was such an easy man to read. The way he expressed his dissatisfaction was no different from a kindergartener. No wonder there were bad rumors about him. Being a villain wasn’t possible with a bad head. The most fundamental requirement to become a villain was to be smart. Maru didn’t know whether he showed up in order to rebuke them or to scare them. Perhaps this man thought nothing and had the van pull over without any reason at all.
Complaining in front of kids because of a momentary spike in emotion, huh. Maru wanted to cheer for him out of pity.
Maru glanced behind him. The three were standing in a diagonal line, looking at Lee Hyuk. Maru locked his hands behind his back and waved his palms sideways. He was gesturing to them to not get agitated.
“I’m sorry. We’ll mind that more from now on.”
“Look around you. If you keep doing that, you will not be able to last long around here, you know? I’m saying all this for your own benefit. When I was like you, minor actors weren’t able to say anything in front of seniors. The world really has become better.”
“We’ll watch out from now on.”
“There’s no one that tells you stuff like this. You know that, right?”
“Yes, of course.”
“Pick up the money already.”
Maru bent down. He got fifty thousand won for free for just talking with him a little. If this was a part time job, he wanted to do it for a lifetime. It seemed that they could get desserts as well with this money. Just as he tried to pick the notes up. Three shadows covered the money. Many hands reached out and snatched the notes from him before the three of them threw it back into the van.
Maru was startled and looked at the three in surprise.
“We don’t need it.”
“We have money as well.”
“I’d like to decline.”
Maru sighed before looking at the skies. These guys were quite aggressive. Leaving aside Bangjoo and Sooyoung, even the usually calm Joon-gi joined them as well. Did he gain a tough personality after shooting the brawl scene?
Lee Hyuk looked at the notes on his l.a.p before laughing.
“All four of you must be f.u.c.k.i.n.g nuts.”
Lee Hyuk was about to get out of the van. Maru saw the three of them flinching.
“Senior, you must be busy, so why don’t you stay inside? I’ll explain to my friends,” Maru spoke as he held the door from opening. Lee Hyuk glared at him from the other side.
Just as he replied, a hand reached out to his face. Maru reflexively pulled back, but he soon stopped and pushed his head forward instead. Lee Hyuk’s hand touched the side of his head. Thud. He was prepared for the hit, so while the sound was loud, it didn't hurt that much.
He lightly reacted to the force and fell over sideways. He got a glimpse of Lee Hyuk looking at him with surprise as he fell down.
Bangjoo was startled and ran up to him. Maru used this opportunity to put a blood capsule in his mouth and pop it open. He had some spares left over from the shoot in his pocket. He had originally got them in order to pull a prank on his girlfriend.
Lee Hyuk peeked outside the window. Maru licked the capsule with his tongue and tried to get as much saliva in his mouth. When he tried spitting out just a little, he saw that it had changed red. Although the capsule hadn’t dissolved yet, it was enough. He put a little bit of it on his hand as he stood up.
He looked at Lee Hyuk in a daze. The important point here was to look like he was frightened. While the three of them panicked and were unable to say anything, Maru touched the side of his head with the hand with the fake blood on it. He showed Lee Hyuk the ‘blood’ he got from ‘the side of his head’ and this time trembled his lips. He couldn’t get angry.
Using offensive words wasn’t the way to bestow the opponent maximum nervousness. It was the fear-stricken eyes that did not know why he got into this situation.
After looking around for a while, Lee Hyuk took out some cheques from his wallet.
“Hey, you damn brat. You should be careful! Take this and go to the hospital right now. I gave you the money okay? And I told you to go to the hospital. If something happens it’s not my fault. You know that, right?”
Maru slowly reached out and grabbed the money. As a service, he did it with shaky hands. Lee Hyuk told his manager to start driving. Maru could see the manager look at him worriedly and apologetically through the side mirror. From the looks of it, it seemed that he could get testimony from him if a problem did occur. Maru looked at the manager with a deep gaze. The manager made a face of pity before driving off.
Maru saw off the van with a sad gaze. Only after seeing the van disappear from his sight did he stretch his shoulders out a little.
“That damn bastard!”
Joon-gi swore at him.
“Let’s report him to the police, seonbae-nim. No, I should call my sister. She should be able to help out.”
Bangjoo was agitated.
“Hey, hey. We should call my dad, we can get all the cops here.”
Maru turned around to his three friends and smiled. The three blinked several times in confusion. He could hear Sooyoung saying ‘did you hit your head too hard’ in a small voice.
“Don’t overreact and take this. This is some pocket money from your big brother here.”
Maru gave the three of them a 100 thousand won cheque, which he received from Lee Hyuk, each.
“A-are you okay?”
“Seonbae-nim. You do realize that you’re bleeding right now, right?”
“It hurts a lot, doesn’t it?”
Maru opened his mouth wide to the others. The three of them freaked out when they saw the red saliva in his mouth, but Sooyoung eventually found something strange as he approached him.
“Don’t tell me this is….”
“Didn’t you take one as well?”
“...Damn lunatic. When did you have the chance to do that?”
“Just after I fell down.”
“Ha, haha, haha. You’re a madman!”
Sooyoung laughed and raised his hand. Maru high fived him pleasantly. Joon-gi and Bangjoo seemed to have realized what was going on as they also came up to him while laughing.
“If someone hits you, just get hit. You get free money.”
“I didn’t even imagine.”
“Hey, we might miss the last train, so let’s hold off eating together for later. We’re going, bye.”
Maru patted Joon-gi and Sooyoung on their backs before starting to walk. He was wiping the blood around his mouth with the back of his hand when Bangjoo approached him with sparkly eyes.
“What is it?”
“You look like a total scammer.”
He hit Bangjoo who grinned at him.
* * *
Lee Hyuk threw his wallet at the manager who glanced at him through the rearview mirror.
“What are you looking at, f.u.c.ker!”
“Son of a bitch. Am I nothing to you, huh? Is that what it is now?”
“O-of course not.”
As he fumed, Lee Hyuk was reminded of the brat that bled just now. He made an awkward smile as he leaned forward.
“My little brother. I was a bit too agitated back there.”
“You know I hold you dear, right? It’s already been a year since we started working together. Did you know that the president tried to fire you and I shielded you?”
“Dang, bro. The reason you can still drive right now is thanks to this big brother here. So treat me well.”
“And also, you know that it’s not my fault for what happened back there, right? He just slipped all on his own. You know that, right?”
“Of course I do.”
“Yes. If someone says something later, you tell them exactly that. Okay? We’re brothers, aren’t we?”
Lee Hyuk smiled and patted the manager on the shoulder loudly before leaning back in the chair.
Those boys were so c.o.c.ky. He couldn’t understand what the director was thinking to listen to kids like them. People called him a genius, but perhaps he was just a lunatic?
“Who’s calling at this time?”
Lee Hyuk picked up his personal phone. A call at such a late hour? The moment he checked the name on the screen though, he immediately sat up. He took a deep breath in before picking up the call politely.