Life, Once Again! - Chapter 163
The car came to a stop after driving on the slush-infested road for quite some time .
“Shall we go?”
“Yes . ”
Yurim felt like instructor Miso’s secretary right now, she got on the elevator of the hospital with a grin . In a flash, they arrived at Maru’s room .
“Go inside . ”
“What about you, instructor?”
“I need to think about something really quick . ”
“ . . . Yes . ”
Well, that’s a bit odd . Yurim stepped inside, for now, on the bed was Maru with a book in hand . It felt uncomfortable to be around him, to be honest . Oh well . She opened her mouth to try to say hi .
“Let me ask you just one thing,” Maru cut in .
The boy was staring at her kind of scarily, their eyes met .
“Did you start the fire?”
The question came out of nowhere, punching Yurim’s throat completely shut . Why was he asking that? He looked like he knew something . Wait, did he know?
The boy shut the book with a loud clap . Maru’s cold, calm expression grew icier by the second . He kicked away the blanket on him before standing up on one foot . Something was weird, Maru was approaching her . She couldn’t breathe . Maru leaned over to look over her, she stepped back with a gasp .
“So it’s you . ”
“W-what are you talking about?! You were the one who started the fire!”
“Why do you think that?”
She didn’t know what to say . She knew Maru wasn’t the perpetrator, so she was speechless . She desperately tried to continue her words .
“Did you see me start the fire?” Maru asked .
“No . But there wasn’t a fire when I came out . So it has to be you . It has to be!”
“I really started the fire?”
“Don’t you even know? You started the fire with a tube of glue . The instructor already said you’re suspicious . Be honest . It’s you!”
“I started the fire with glue?”
“Yes . You started the fire and then called everyone else here!”
She shouted before looking at Maru . How dare he get suspicious of her! He didn’t even have proof!
“Mm . ”
Maru loosened his expression before stepping back .
“Sorry . ”
“I was just really mad . I didn’t mean to shift blame . ”
Maru looked down apologetically . Yurim thought for a second, so Maru really didn’t know anything .
“But it’s not me either, please believe me . ”
Maru went back to his spot with a sigh, he looked tired for some reason .
“I was just feeling chaotic because I was hurt . Sorry . I got too agitated . ”
He looked like an apologetic sinner, Yurim relaxed a little bit .
“Well, fine . I’ll take it . But you really didn’t start a fire?”
“Yes . Please believe me . ”
“But instructor Miso’s suspicious of you . I don’t think so either, but the fire did start after you went up . ”
“That’s true . But if I started the fire, do you think I would’ve tried to save the stage despite risking injuries? It’s really not me . Believe me . ”
Maru balled up his fists, his emotions must be a mess right now . He was getting blamed for something he didn’t even do, after all . That would explain his previous actions as well .
‘Good . He doesn’t know anything . ’
What should she do? Should she push him a bit further? No . She decided to just watch him, it kind of felt good watching the boy struggle with his thoughts . That’s right, you shouldn’t even have thought about jumping into the fire!
“I heard from instructor Miso that we wouldn’t take this to the police . The school only thinks of this as a mistake as well . ”
Yurim’s complexion improved in a flash . She’s been worried all night about what she could do if teachers or the police get involved, she didn’t want to get arrested . That would put her in a fate worse than death . But if the world saw this as a simple mistake? Nothing would happen .
It was like the nervousness and regret that’s been stabbing away at her heart suddenly disappeared, it felt good to breathe again . Her vision cleared up and she began to notice things, like the little mountain of fruits next to Maru . Color was starting to come back into her world . Ah, she’s just noticed how pretty the snow is outside . Yurim smiled lightly .
“I don’t think it’s you either . There’s no one here that’d do something like that . ”
“Thanks . ”
Maru sighed in relief, she felt a little less hateful of Maru now that she’s relaxed quite a bit . It’d be nice if the incident just gets forgotten like this… She took a sip of the plum juice Maru gave her and sat down, only then did she notice Maru’s hurt leg .
“Were you hurting a lot?”
“I’m fine now . The fracture doesn’t seem like anything bad . ”
“That’s good . I was worried . ”
Their conversation smoothed out . The plum juice was sweet . She felt like she could fly . Finally, she’d be able to sleep well for the first time in a very long time . Instructor Miso entered through the door . She didn’t feel guilty anymore when she looked at the instructor .
“Yurim, can you step out for a bit?”
“Yes . ”
She stepped outside . Once they were out of Maru’s view, instructor Miso started asking her questions .
“How was he?”
“He seemed suspicious, but I don’t think it’s him . He looked really guilty, so I felt sorry for him . ”
Right then, instructor Miso took out her phone . She must’ve gotten a message, she checked her phone after telling Yurim to wait for a second . She put the phone in her pockets after reading it .
“Hah, so no one in the club, I guess?”
Yurim nodded for now . She needed to snuff out any further reason for instructor Miso to investigate further .
“Alright . You’re all good kids, so I believe it . I’ll just think of it as unlucky . ”
“Yes, I think it’d be for the best . It feels bad to be suspicious of my friends . ”
“You’re a good kid . ”
Miso patted her shoulders . Yurim felt freed from all of her shackles, she actually had to suppress a grin from coming up on her mouth .
“Yurim, I hate to say it, but can you go back by yourself? I want to talk with Maru . ”
“Yes, that’s fine . ”
“Here’s your money for the taxi . Good work . I’ll see you in two days . ”
“Yes . ”
What a good day . Yurim dropped all of her worries and stepped outside .
* * *
Maru stretched; his hips hurt from sitting for too long, he twisted his hips to loosen them up a bit .
“She’s gone . ”
Miso entered the room . Maru handed her a plum drink to her as well .
“Here, it’s good . ”
“Your words make you sound like a liar . ”
And he was . It was honestly a bit too sweet for his tastes, so he’s offered it to anyone who comes to visit him . Even with that, he had eight bottles left . When would he be able to get rid of them? Just as he opened a bottle of orange juice for himself, Miso snatched the drink out of his hands and switched it out for the plum drink .
“Plums are good for your health . ”
“Hah . ”
“Don’t sigh, you’re still young . ”
Miso gulped down the drink in one shot . She must feel pretty stuffy inside . After all, a criminal emerged from the club, when she was so sure that they wouldn’t be in there . Miso frowned in annoyance .
“Alright, so . How’s Yurim the perpetrator? And why did you just send her back?”
Miso spoke as she took out her phone with Maru’s text opened .
[I think Yurim did it . Send her back with thanks for now . ]
Maru took out a voice recorder from his pant pocket .
“A recorder . ”
He wordlessly played the recording . The conversation he had with Yurim played out .
“ . . . . . ”
Miso’s frown deepened .
“You didn’t tell the club about the glue, did you?”
“Of course not . I didn’t want to talk about it . ”
Miso played the recording multiple times, Maru smiled bitterly looking at her . The woman was a fan of humans, so an incident like this must’ve been quite a shock to her . To think her student would try to trick her and pin the blame on Maru . . .
Maru realized that Yurim was the one who did it as soon as she stepped into the room . A giant word bubble popped up over her as soon as their eyes met . The word bubble was shaky and spiky, reflecting her current mental state . Moreover, it had the words ‘did he find any evidence?’ written on it . But of course, that wasn’t good enough as evidence . So he brought his recorder .
“I wonder why she did it,” Miso sighed .
“Yurim’s probably the only person who knows . ”
“Hah, I should ask her . ”
Miso’s eyes narrowed like a hawk’s . Maru grabbed her wrist with a shake of his head .
“Leave her be . ”
“What? Leave her be?”
Miso shook off Maru’s hand with a confused expression .
* * *
“I understand that you care for her . But we can’t just let this go . She started a fire . Someone got hurt . You can’t just forgive . . . ”
Miso couldn’t even finish her words properly . The quietest girl in the club started a fire . Maru was telling her to just let it go though, that wasn’t right .
“Who said I was going to forgive her?”
Maru looked as calm as ever . Emotionless, really .
“If you commit a crime, punishment awaits . That’s why laws and society exist . ”
“Why did you tell me to let her go, then?”
Maru pushed his book over to one side .
“As you know, I need to show Mr . Junmin some results . Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get into the nationals because of this injury . But if we win even without me, at least I can put my name under the team . ”
He was speaking slowly . Emotionlessly . As if this and the fire were two completely different matters .
“Nothing good will come out of trying to damage Yurim right now . She’d either ask for forgiveness or play innocent till the end . Either way, it’s not helpful for the play . That’s bad . Yurim needs to act until the end at her best condition . ”
Maru cracked his neck sideways . He smiled a little in satisfaction .
“I like and respect people who are close to me, but I’m not a philanthropist by any means . I’m quite greedy, as a matter of fact . I try to get as much as I can from what benefits me, and I throw out what doesn’t help me . In that sense, Yurim still has some value . So, unfortunately, I’m going to have to ask you to play coy until the nationals finish, instructor . ”
Maru’s eyes were cold . They were a bit alien, but she did think that this might be what the boy was actually like . This boy was extremely lenient when he was getting harmed by his own volition . He didn’t think much about making sacrifices, but he didn’t have any mercy when he had to take losses from other people’s actions .
Miso was reminded of what Taesik said a while ago, back when the school was getting rowdy with talks about school violence . Taesik described the boy back then as the ‘Hammurabi code of laws’ back then, she sort of understood what he meant by that now .
“Let’s smile until the end of the finals . So that Yurim doesn’t get too shaken up . ”
This was for the best, everyone would benefit from this for sure . But how did Maru personally feel about this?
“Aren’t you mad? Can you take it?”
He got hurt by the fire, he could’ve gotten seriously injured . He missed his spot in the nationals as well, a spot that could’ve possibly earned him a lot of interest from industry workers . He lost a great chance just because of Yurim’s foolishness .
“Of course I’m mad, but I have much to gain from being patient for a moment . Profits come first and foremost, emotions can come later . ”
What a smart boy . He looked like the type of person who’d survived for years in society . Just where did someone like him come from?
“You should just start a company instead of acting . No, just start up a cult . You’ll succeed for sure . ”
“I did think about that, but I don’t really look that kind or gentle . ”
Maru smiled brightly, softening the mood of the room immediately . What a strange kid .
“Alright . I’ll go with it for now . What will you do after the nationals though?”
“I’ll ask why she did it . We can think about what to do after my curiosity is satisfied . I want to know what made her do this . ”
Miso nodded as she stood up . She needed to take care of the club, now that it’s come to this . For now, she’d tell the club that it was all just a misunderstanding . They’d hate her for some time, but whatever . She was an adult .
“Ah, what if she did it for a legitimate reason?”
She asked before she stepped out . Of course, the girl probably didn’t have a good reason to start a fire of all things, but she was curious about what Maru would say .
“A legitimate reason . It’s unfortunate, but that doesn’t change anything . Reasons aren’t indulgences . One needs to be ready for the consequences of their actions . ”
His last words sent a slight chill down Miso’s back . She nodded before closing the door behind her .