(Note: The following scene might be VERY disturbing. You have been warned.)
“Did I tell you this last time? I was really touched after seeing your first movie. Your first movie is what made me want to become an actor.”
“Ah, yes. Thank you.”
Lee Hyuk took a bite from the crêpe when Giwoo told him to eat. Although the crêpe contained lots of cream and fruit, he couldn’t taste anything. He only mechanically moved his jaws to break it down and swallow it.
“Is the food to your tastes?”
“Yes. It’s good.”
“A patissier I really like created it for me. It’s really hard to get ahold of this since he usually stays in France, but he came to Korea a while ago.”
Giwoo ate the crêpe with a happy face. Lee Hyuk drank the water in his cup in one gulp before heaving a deep breath out. He had emptied four glasses of water already.
“Looks like you’re thirsty.”
“No, I just really like water.”
“I see. Oh, I heard you went to a shoot. How was it?”
“It was the same as usual. Shoot, rest, shoot, rest.”
“I heard that the director was quite eccentric.”
“Ah, the director. He is a little eccentric.”
“What was he like?”
“He instructs us on what acting to do.”
“Isn’t that the same for the other directors?”
“His participation is on a whole different level. He doesn’t let any actors do what they want. We just had to do precisely what the director told us to do.”
“That’s rather peculiar. Then there are no improvisations or ad-libbing?”
“No, not a single one.”
“I see. What an interesting director. I’d like to see him once.”
Oh, please excuse me - he added before picking up his phone. He didn’t use any polite speech as though he was talking to a friend. Lee Hyuk checked the time with the watch he received. It was nearly 1 a.m. He didn’t know how long he would be staying here. Although it was frustrating, there was nothing he could do. He could only wait obediently until he was told that it was okay to go.
“That’s not it. You must leave some room behind. Our ancestors were never wrong. A cornered rat will bite. So don’t push too hard and leave some breathing room. Only then will there be no accidents. Yeah, yeah. Right. You can enjoy yourself more, but keep this in mind: you cannot let that person challenge you. You must leave just enough room for that person to run away. If that person turns around and tries to bite you, then you should completely suppress that person. No, actually, you can’t get to that stage. It means that you’re lacking. You can’t be played with by someone you’re trying to toy with. Isn’t that right?”
Giwoo spoke as though he was explaining a math formula to a neighboring student. Lee Hyuk felt his nerves tightening and he started eating the crêpe in a rush. Giwoo’s voice was buried beneath his chewing noise. He didn’t want to know what that kid was talking about nor who he was talking to. No, he should never know either. Just as he was looking for the sweet flavor with his numb tongue, Giwoo put down his phone and spoke.
“Sorry about the call just now.”
“Not at all.”
“Rather than that, it seems like you really like that crêpe. Should I order some more?”
“I-I’m fine. I’m full now that I ate one in a rush.”
Giwoo smiled and nodded. Lee Hyuk felt as though the yucky cream smell was climbing back out of his throat. He really wanted to eat something spicy right now.
“Eunjoo-noona is quite mischievous, isn’t she?”
“No, not at all. She’s a good person.”
“Haha, you don’t have to be so nervous. Her mischief is quite famous among us. That watch, it looks like you got it from her, right?”
“Ah, yes. Just now.”
Lee Hyuk slowly lowered his arm so that the watch face couldn’t be seen. The conversation had halted for a while. Giwoo chewed on the crêpe he said he liked with a relaxing smile. Seeing Giwoo’s chin slowly move, Lee Hyuk felt his tongue go dry. The sound of a clock ticking could be heard from somewhere. There was no clock in the room. He didn’t know where the sound was coming from, but Lee Hyuk felt stifled by the sound.
“You helped me out a lot, senior.”
“Help? Oh, no, not at all.”
“Yes, you did. From the moment you met me along with Eunjoo-noona three years ago, you helped me out quite a lot. Thanks to that, I was able to have a successful debut, and I managed to digest the historical drama that I’m shooting now without a problem. Oh, you know that one, right? The one with Han Myung-hoe as the main character.”
“Yes, I do. I really do.”
“Ah… but it seems like my acting was a bit old. The producer said that it was good at first, but the more we progressed, the less he seemed satisfied.”
Lee Hyuk subconsciously put strength into the hands he placed on his knees. He had met this kid three years ago. Back then, he had screwed up his business so badly that he had lost his house to the debt and was thinking about committing suicide. Just then, he was introduced to Kim Eunjoo by one person. She was someone that was given the title of senior managing director for her 30th birthday. She lived in a completely different world. She earned enough money to pay taxes for her luxuries, which amounted to what an ordinary breadwinner would earn in a year. Her concept of ‘consumer’ was completely different from the others.
Lee Hyuk, while he was still at rock bottom, was able to make a comeback thanks to her. He started getting advertising contracts again which were cut off before. Numerous contracts flooded him during the past three years. Although he didn’t belong to any agency, he had no problems doing his activities. Eunjoo also solved his tax problems by assigning him a very capable tax accountant. His stamp was never dry of ink. He had gained a new life in exchange for doing cute tricks in front of her.
However, now that three years had passed, Lee Hyuk had found a new rope that bound his body. Contract. Her methods were smart and were just as scary.
In that process, Lee Hyuk was introduced to Kang Giwoo, who Eunjoo called a ‘close little brother’. He was a rather kind-looking boy. He smiled at every word and was kind. Just as he thought that there could be a kid like this in this world, he got to see the true nature of the boy.
Lee Hyuk shook his head lightly and snapped out of it.
“Old, you said?”
“Yes. My acting was definitely good, but it seems that it doesn’t fit the latest trends.”
“Th-then what do I do?”
“Nothing specific. I learned a lot from you until now after all. I just set up this occasion in order to thank you. Oh, and also, take this.”
Giwoo gave him a box wrapped with a silver strap. When he opened it, he saw a necktie pin.
“Apparently, it’s made of platinum. It should suit you.”
Lee Hyuk closed the box again and looked at Giwoo.
“Does that mean I don’t need to coach you anymore?”
“Yes, we’re done. I don’t have anything I can learn from you anymore after all. Thanks for everything until now.”
He hurriedly called out to Giwoo, who was standing up from his seat.
“Then what happens to me from now….”
“Don’t worry about it. I think Eunjoo-noona still likes you, senior.”
“But who knows, she might change her mind if I say a couple of words to her. She’s very whimsical after all. She’s a scary one capable of ditching someone she had been with for 4 years without batting an eyelid.”
Lee Hyuk raised his head to look at Giwoo. Giwoo was putting on a nonchalant smile.
His knees started shaking. His body leaned forward subconsciously. His knees touched the floor. Lee Hyuk lowered his head and spoke.
“C-can’t you put in a good word for me?”
A pair of white brand-name shoes entered his eyes. He felt as though he was about to groan from all the humiliation and embarrassment he felt, but he didn’t have the courage to strike back. Nothing other than begging desperately was probably allowed to him right now.
“Senior, why are you doing this? You’re making me look bad.”
The white shoes moved backwards, and Giwoo, who kneeled just like him, looked into his eyes. Lee Hyuk looked at Giwoo. Giwoo nodded twice before extending a hand. Lee Hyuk grabbed his hand and the two slowly stood up together.
“My mother likes movies where you appear.”
“Ah, yes, okay.”
“So please do well in the future too, okay?”
“Of course, of course.”
Was this what it felt like to receive salvation? He felt truly thankful. Humiliation? Embarrassment? Such trivial emotions were buried by the wave of emotions. Right now, the boy in front of him was God.
Giwoo closed the door and left. Lee Hyuk staggered his way to the bed and sat down. He didn’t know how long he sat there for. Just then, he was reminded of the necktie pin that Giwoo gave him. He smiled in vain, opened the box, and tried grabbing the necktie pin in his hands. The moment he felt the cold sensation, Lee Hyuk clenched his teeth so hard that his teeth were going to break. He wanted to cry. He wanted to scream. He wanted to strangle the hell out of that little prick and throw him out the window.
He stood up from his seat and raised his hands above his head. Then, he threw the necktie pin on the floor with all of his power. Along with a clinking sound, the pin bounced off the floor, then off the wall before disappearing somewhere.
Lee Hyuk sat back down while panting. After calming down his breathing, he raised his head and looked at the mirror embedded in the ceiling. He could see his pathetic face. He didn’t know what led him here. He brushed his hair, which was stuck against his forehead due to the cold sweat, upwards and stood up.
“...I should find it.”
He made a loathing laugh before crouching on the ground. Why did he throw it if it was going to be like this in the end? He picked up the necktie pin that faintly reflected off the light underneath the bed. He dusted it off. It looked very high-class and also looked like it would fit a navy-colored tie. When he was in this place, he would often hop between self-loathing and p.l.e.a.s.u.r.e. He would probably go crazy if he stayed here for a long time.
Just as he was about to open the door with a sigh, the door opened without him opening it. The person that opened the door was the cute girl that opened the door for him when he arrived at this place. She had the smell of alcohol as though she had drunk quite a bit.
“Why are you here?”
Just as he asked in a questioning tone, he felt a gaze looking at him with his arms crossed. He moved his eyes. He saw Giwoo, who had an indecent grin.
The girl took a step closer to him before jumping into his arms. The girl spoke in a small voice.
“Would you like to play with me?”
Her voice was shaking endlessly. Her shaking was transferred to Lee Hyuk since their bodies were pressed together. Lee Hyuk looked at the girl in his arms before he looked at Giwoo again. Giwoo had a smile like a service worker and nodded once.
That face. Lee Hyuk knew what that face was.
Eunjoo was someone who clearly expressed her malicious intent. She expressed her emotions well just like a normal person. She would give him a reward if he followed her words well, and would rebuke him if he didn’t. While Lee Hyuk found her difficult and scary, he could still look at her in the eyes. She was someone understandable after all. A fear that he could understand was something he could handle.
However, he had no idea what to do with that kid. Villain? Malicious? He wasn’t related to any of that. That boy was pure. No malicious intent could be felt from him. Yes. He made other people tragic with words that didn’t contain any malice. That was what made Lee Hyuk feel scared. A fear he couldn’t even comprehend was something he couldn’t resist.
Lee Hyuk hugged the girl in his arms and took her straight to bed. He kissed her c.h.e.s.t since she had given up on resisting before stripping her. He rubbed all over her body like a horny dog. Just then, he saw Giwoo, who had approached him without making a sound. Lee Hyuk stared at Giwoo, who patted his back before leaving, for a long time. The door slowly closed and it became quiet.
Lee Hyuk looked at the girl beneath him. The girl, clearly stricken with fear, started smiling awkwardly.
“...Yeah. I should take a breather as well,” Lee Hyuk said as he forcefully pulled apart the girl’s legs.
* * *
“You look tired.”
“Maybe I didn’t get enough sleep in the coach. My shoulders felt stiff ever since I went home last night. Urgh, my back.”
“Someone might think you’re an old geezer.”
“Since we’re talking about it, why don’t you give me a massage?”
Dojin said ‘fine’ before pressing on Maru’s shoulders with his elbow. Maru didn’t expect much, but the massage was actually pretty decent.
“Where did you learn to do that?”
“I learned in order to help Iseul’s mother out. She’s dealing with food ingredients all day after all.”
“This is why raising boys is no good. They only look after their girlfriend’s parents. Ouch, that hurts.”
“I’m doing the same for my mom so don’t talk bullshit. But hey, your shoulders are really stiff. They’re totally like a rock.”
Maru had Dojin massage his shoulders throughout the entirety of the break time.
“You have a good friend, don’t you?”
Dojin said as he lifted his hands off Maru’s shoulders. Maru made a satisfied smile.
“Yes, I really do.”
“If you’re like this, Bangjoo must be dazed right now.”
“He has more stamina than me, so he’s probably fine.”
Just as he rotated his shoulders around once, the teacher entered through the front door.
“Hey, give me your textbook. The two of you can share.”
He immediately stole the textbook from a kid sitting in the front row.
“Boys, wake up. It will be lunchtime after this so don’t doze off and listen carefully. I’ll add a minute to the lesson every time I see someone doze off.”
The teacher slapped on the lecture desk as he spoke.