Coincidence arose from suddenness. What followed were emotions like happiness or sadness. This situation was precisely like that. In this case, the emotions that followed were unpleasantness and unfamiliarity.
“May I help you?”
Maru spoke to the boys sitting in a circle around him. The atmosphere of the class was not ordinary since the moment he came to school. A lot of them gave him glances and whispered to each other. It was like they were bachelors who just heard a rumor that one of them had met a beautiful girl.
“You met Ahn Joohyun twice now, huh.”
“And you dare say you don’t know anything?”
“I heard that each scene takes around 3 to 4 hours to shoot.”
“When I watched yesterday, he was practically rubbing all over her.”
His eyes were twitching. He was fed up with making a sympathetic face. Maru just waved his hand.
“I told you it’s just a coincidence.”
“How is two times in a row a coincidence?”
Even though these boys didn’t usually have any brains, they tried to pry into him like they were Sherlock Holmes. Maru needed a Watson to clear up the situation here.
Maru thought about Bangjoo for a second, but he couldn’t sell out his junior. The moment he told everyone here that Ahn Joohyun had a little brother in the 1st year of this school, Bangjoo’s school life would get tiring.
“What do you want?”
In the end, he had to raise the white flag. It was impossible to calm down hot-blooded high school students with too much yang using words. He had to negotiate in order to calm them down.
“Uhm… nothing specifically.”
“Me neither. It’s not like I want an autograph.”
“We’re too old for that.”
The reactions from his friends were lukewarm. Even though they caused all that fuss last time. Maru asked his friends once again.
“Then why the hell are you doing this to me?”
They then replied quickly as though they were waiting for him to ask that question.
“Your stomach hurts when your cousin buys real estate.”
“We can’t let you have all the fun.”
“Of course, of course.”
“Ah, wait. I think it’ll be good if I can get the autograph, now that I think about it.”
“Get one for us.”
Maru shook his head. Since when did being whimsical become popular? The boys, who were all talking about Ahn Joohyun, switched topics and started asking things about the shoot.
Maru answered what he could. The question he received the most was about the contents of the next episode, but he couldn’t answer since he did not know anything either.
“But you really did look good on camera. Last time, you were wearing a baseball cap, so it was hard to recognize you, but your whole face came out yesterday.”
“Right. But did you wear something on your eyes yesterday? They looked like they were going to burst.”
“They were so bloodshot.”
Maru scratched his eyebrows and replied to them that it was because he got hit. The boys stared at him before nodding their heads in comprehension.
“Are you going to appear again then?”
“That’s it. No more.”
“Yeah, I only went there due to a coincidence. There’s also the fact that the director just saw me in a good way. I wasn’t an official cast member, so that’s the last episode I’m in.”
“Well, it did say special appearance in the credits. But wow, Han Maru keeps coming out on TV. Maybe he’ll actually do well at this rate?”
The kids gave him light smacks on the back before going back to their seats. He probably heard ‘don’t forget about me once you become popular’ around ten times. They looked like they were going to keep holding him for the entire day, but it was extremely rare for boys at this age to be so talkative over someone else’s matters for a long time. They then scattered and returned to their normal lives. Games, soccer and then back to games. Rather than celebrities, who they weren’t related to, game items that they could obtain were much more interesting topics.
“That must have been hard for you.”
Dowook seemed to have visited the cafeteria as he was holding a drink in his hand.
“But what are you going to do now? It doesn’t seem to have ended yet.”
Dowook pointed at the back door with an interested face. When Maru turned around, he saw Aram and the other members of the acting club. The problem was that it wasn’t just the members of the acting club. Students from some other departments of the 2nd year had come as well. There was a group of people from class 2 of electrical, which was the class next to theirs.
“Hey, hey. I saw you on TV!”
“Han Maru! I heard you were on TV.”
“Seonbae, I saw you yesterday. You were awesome.”
Maru sighed and brushed down his face.
“Good luck with that, Maru.”
The fact that he could feel a teasing tone from Daemyung’s consolation was probably not because he was s.e.n.s.i.t.i.v.e. Maru put on some earphones and laid down on his desk. The curiosity wasn’t even going to last a day. He just had to endure through the morning.
“The pop star Han Maru is sleeping.”
He decided to remember those words, which came from Dowook.
Maru turned the volume of his MP3 to twice as loud as usual.
* * *
“Was that really your brother?”
“I told you he was.”
“Really? That’s awesome.”
Bada smiled and shrugged. Her friends had gained interest after seeing her post on her mini homepage yesterday. It was a little embarrassing to talk about her brother, but she felt proud when she heard her friends praising her brother.
“Is he going to come out again? From what I saw, he was really good at acting.”
“W-well. I’m not sure.”
“Because that guy doesn’t say things like that.”
At that moment, the girl sitting on Bada’s right spoke.
“You have it good. I heard that your brother got you the tickets to TTO’s concert as well. I wanted to go too.”
“Ah, right. He did get you those as well.”
Bada coughed and said that it was nothing much.
“Nothing much? Looks like your brother is really doing well. Maybe he’s going to be a main character in a drama some day?”
“Who knows. That dude seems to have m.a.t.u.r.ed after entering high school. He also seems to be doing a lot of work.”
“Anyway, it must be good for you. My brother always nags at me to get off the computer because he wants to use it.”
Bada shrugged. This was the first time she received the attention of her classmates all at once. Her lips twitched in joy when she felt the gazes of envy.
“Actually, he was the one who got me Sungjae-oppa’s autograph.”
“Yeah. Oh, you haven’t seen it yet, have you?”
Although she already boasted about it to her close friends, she hadn’t talked about this with the ones she was talking to now. That was because they hung out in different groups. Although they said hi to each other, that was only at school. Once school finished, the girls only hung out in their respective groups, so there was no opportunity to talk about serious things with them.
Above all, what made her excited the most was that the girl that usually looked down on her was looking at her suspiciously. ‘Kang Sora, look at this. It’s the real deal.’
She took out the autograph she painstakingly laminated and showed it to everyone else. The girls that bought photos of TTO in batch at the stationery store exclaimed and started at the autograph. The other girls also came to her wanting to see it up close.
Bada responded with a calm smile to all the interest and looks given to her. Actually, she wanted to boast, but she held back since Sora, who was glaring at her from the side, might nitpick.
“Are you sure that’s a real autograph? It looks similar to the one sold at our local stationery store.”
Sora ended up saying something. Bada immediately replied.
“What are you saying? That dude, I mean, my brother really got this for me.”
“And how do we believe that?”
“How do we believe it? Look, it’s the same as the one sold in the stationery store. No, are you sure it’s not copied from the internet? I saw some people do that these days.”
Sora lifted the laminated autograph before putting it against the lights.
“Think about it. Her brother getting her an autograph of Sungjae-oppa on an autograph paper like this? Does that even make any sense? Also, he seemed to have appeared in a drama last night, right? Someone I know works for a TV station, and he told me that anyone can appear for short moments like that.”
“Is that true?”
Everyone looked at Sora.
“Yes. You know acting schools right? They just randomly pick people from there. The ones that have time.”
“Oh really? Then Bada’s brother wasn’t picked because he was good?”
“I wouldn’t know for sure. But he only appeared for a brief moment. That means he’s a one-off actor, so it’s probably safe to say that he didn’t do anything amazing. Oh, I’m not looking down on your brother. I’m just stating facts. You know what I mean, right?”
Sora smiled and put down the autograph. Bada looked up at that girl with a sour expression. The girls around just glanced at the autograph before going back to their seats. Although they weren’t saying anything, they seemed to think that it was fake.
“Ah, right. I found out the location of Change-oppas’ next schedule. Are you going to come? My mom gave me money, so I can pay for the transport fares and food.”
Sora turned around as she spoke. While TTO entered a break period, the one that replaced them as the number 1 on the rankings was Change.
The girls flocked around Sora this time. Everyone replied while smiling since Sora was the most popular in the class.
“Hey hey. It’s not like this is the first time she’s like that so don’t mind it too much.”
“That’s right, Bada. She’s just jealous.”
Although her friends consoled her with a smile, Bada was frustrated. Her sneering speech was something she always did, so she didn’t really care, but she really didn’t like the fact that she badmouthed that dude, her brother.
‘I’m the only one who can look down on him. Not you!’
Those words circled in her mouth, but Bada was unable to say it until the end. Fighting with Sora would ruin her relationship with everyone else in the class as well. She didn’t want that to happen.
Bada took out her phone and looked things up on the internet in order to relieve her depression. She also sent a text message.
-What is it now?
Dowook’s short reply made her eyes light on fire. His girlfriend was depressed and what? ‘What is it now?’ Bada moved her fingers busily while looking at Sora sitting on her desk, laughing and chatting.
* * *
“Do something about your sister, dude.”
“I don’t know. She’s upset for some reason.”
“How would I know something that you don’t? Don’t make her cry and treat her well. She’s kinda hopeless once she starts complaining. If she’s upset when I go home today, I’ll think that it’s because of you and call you about it, so bear that in mind.”
Maru held a middle finger up at Dowook who panted in anger before waving at Daemyung.
“See you tomorrow.”
“See you tomorrow, Maru. Have fun with your class.”
He took the bus and the train to Seoul like always. He now entered Film, which he had gotten used to now, and opened the door to lecture room 4.
“Over there, you’re not allowed to come in.”
The floor and the ceiling were ripped apart. It was under construction.
The other lecture rooms had their classes as usual. He wondered what this was about and took out his phone.
His phone had been turned off. He had turned it off because some of his classmates texted and called him as a prank in the morning, and forgot to turn it back on again. When he turned it on, he found a text message from three hours ago. There was also a missed call from Film. The text notified him that there was no class today due to construction.
“What are you doing outside?”
He heard a voice behind him. Maru made a bitter smile seeing Sungjae who stood behind him. Here was one more person that didn’t see the text. When he explained to him the situation, Sungjae just accepted it without much surprise.
“My phone number was leaked, so I let my personal phone go and was using a business one. Looks like the text went to that one.”
“Let’s leave for now. It’s not like we can do anything here.”
“Alright, let’s do that.”
Sungjae flicked the guitar he was wearing on his back.
* * *
“A mocha bun and a latte, please.”
“Ah, yes. And thanks for last time.”
Yoo Sooil asked the part timer girl in front of him.
“You drove out the woman who caused a ruckus here….”
“Oh! You are from back then. Nah, we should help each other out.”
He remembered back to when he first met Maru in the coffee shop in the lounge of the JA building. He did have a dispute with a female employee who was screeching her heart out. Sooil smiled and received the bun and the coffee as he sat down. His business here was done, and his day would be over once he went home after enjoying the bread and coffee.
‘This place has some really good coffee.’
Just as he was enjoying himself while sipping coffee, he saw a woman approaching him from the other side of the glass wall with a fierce glare on her face. There was an ID card around her neck. It was the woman he had a dispute with last time.
“Oh my lord.”
Sooil wanted to run away after finishing the coffee, but the coffee was too hot, and there was more than half of it left. He couldn’t exactly leave behind food. In the end, he had to watch as the woman came into the coffee shop.
“Hey! You are the kid from back then, aren’t you?”
“Eh? I’m not sure what you mean.”
“You are! The dude that lied about being president Kim Jaechul’s son.”
“No, when did I do that? I never did such a thing.”
He laughed and stuffed the bun in his mouth. He was just about to get up and leave when that woman grabbed him by the arm.
“Who told you you can leave? Do you know what kind of things I had to face because of you last time?”
“Strictly speaking, it was you who was being unreasonable to the part timer….”
“You are no good. You picked the wrong opponent. I’m not someone that goes easy on people just because they’re young. Okay?”
The employee took out her phone as she spoke.
 A Korean idiom about jealousy. It refers to jealousy when it’s someone close to you that gets something good.