Life, Once Again! - Chapter 796
To Heewon, acting was something forced upon him. It wasn’t something he started because he liked, but he found his talent in it, so he started focusing on acting according to the generally accepted opinion that a special talent can resolve living expense problems. He was quite uneasy since he had never focused on anything for an extended period of time, but he didn’t give up on it, believing in his little brother’s words that he could do it. After all, his brother was never wrong. When he started learning the basics after entering an agency, Heewon realized that his talent was something beyond special.
“You will become a one-of-a-kind actor.”
Those were the words of Choi Gyeonmi, his instructor. Under Choi Gyeonmi, Heewon focused on differentiating and expressing the color of emotions that only he could see within him. Borrowing Gyeonmi’s words, that was the process of bringing out the world hidden within him behind a shell. He alternated between the boredom and ecstasy given to him by learning until one day, Gyeonmi gave him a script for a drama, saying that it was time for him to do something. Ever since then, his only wish had been to live in his house without leaving for a month. His schedule was just that tight.
He couldn’t remember how many times he planned to runaway. He even prepared a car without his brother’s knowledge and almost made his escape, but whenever he attempted, he recalled his brother’s dead-still face as he slept. His brother worked several times more and slept half as much.
“I’m going to go to the military.”
For the first time, he went against his brother. The part below his brother’s eyes had turned dark, but he kept trying to persuade him that going to the military would have a severe impact on his career. Heewon wondered if he had gotten any sleep or had any food. Whenever he asked, Haewon always replied that he was okay and that he slept more than his brother, but his face betrayed his answer every single time.
“If you go to the military right now, everything you’ve done until now might go up in flames. You have gained a reputation and you are an actor whose skills were acknowledged, but I don’t think it’s enough to withstand a two-year gap. Why do you want to go to the military in the first place?”
“To take a break. Both me and you.”
“Let’s take a break! Please! Do what you want for two years, get some sleep, and eat some food. I’m saying you should stop wiping my ass and do what you want. I don’t care what it is. I’ve earned quite a lot of money. You know that, don’t you? You can use it all. I can always just earn more.”
His brother, who said they should talk the next day, ended up going to the hospital because of a cold. Due to fatigue, stress, and malnutrition, his brother was practically a general hospital himself. When he habitually said that he was okay, he actually wasn’t. He had never sniffled even once when they slept in that cold basement room, so this just went to show how arduous his manager life had been for the past three years.
His brother had even put aside going to Seoul University in order to work as his manager. He was also stubborn to the point that he didn’t look out for his own body while working as a manager. Heewon had to semi-forcefully have Haewon rest, and the conclusion he arrived at was the military. Saying that he’ll look for a new manager wasn’t something he could say to his brother who had abandoned the most important period of his life for the bigger brother’s sake. If they were going to work, they were going to work together, and when they stopped, they would stop together as well. Even Haewon wouldn’t be able to interfere with his military service despite being determined to follow him to the depths of hell, and during that period, he would spend meaningful time, whether it was taking a break or doing what he wanted to do. It was a pretty decent method that he came up with in his narrow mind.
“Why did you come?”
“Because I could move pretty well.”
Heewon shook his head as he looked at his little brother with a mask on. His brother, who had barely returned home after being hospitalized for days, did not listen to his words to take a rest and ended up coming to the shooting set. The ‘Lee Heewon rule’, which stated that catching a cold should put a stop to everything, didn’t apply to his brother.
“Like that, the cold will become the flu.”
“That’s not likely, so don’t worry. Rather than that, Maru-hyung told me that you’re going to go to the PC bang and eat ramyun once you’re done here.”
“He said that already? How’s his mouth so light when we’re supposed to be friends?”
“It’s not that his mouth is light. He’s looking out for you. You always swell up when you eat, so why do you keep trying to eat?”
“Well, people want to do the things they’re told not to do.”
Haewon frowned before coughing dryly. Heewon quickly handed him a bottle of water and scolded him, which was unlike usual as it would usually be the other way round. After taking a sip and a breather, his brother spoke,
“You even told the president, huh? That you’re going to the military. You were always so slow when it came to other things, but you just have to be quick with this matter.”
“I do things when I set my mind to it. I’m going to enlist after the drama is over.”
“Is it because of me?”
“Yes, it’s because of you. You just won’t listen to me when I tell you to rest, so I have no choice but to take a rest myself. I’ll have to go to the military once I’m thirty anyway, so I might as well go early. Looking at Maru, I feel like going earlier might be the better choice.”
“I’ll quit being your manager. Is that enough?”
“No. I don’t want that either. I thought about it. Would I be doing this job if not for you? If you quit, I’m going to quit as well and go to the countryside to farm or something. I have enough money for that after all.”
“You’re going to farm?”
“I can do it if I set my mind to it. I can just plant seeds and pick the fruits when it’s all grown. Easy.”
“It’s clear from just listening to you that you will never be able to do it.”
His brother sat down next to him, taking slow breaths without talking. Heewon also did not speak first. His brother was probably clearing up his mind right now. He was a smart kid, and so would be able to come up with a wise, correct decision.
The staff within the set started running around. Their business signified that the shoot was about to begin. Producer Jayeon was shouting within the set. Once the shouts died down, the standby sign should probably fall.
“Looks like there’s no helping it. You usually don’t like to do anything, but you’re stubborn and you’ll never relent once you’re set on something.”
“Me? I’m like a reed compared to you.”
“Leaving that aside, now that I think about it, I think I pushed myself too. Perhaps my desire to make you succeed contained my disappointment regarding the things I gave up on. Maybe that was why I was even more persistent even though I knew that I was ruining my body in the process.”
“Yes, so take some rest. And do the things you wanted to do. You said you wanted to go traveling, didn’t you? How about Hawaii? Or Japan? Even Jeju islands fine since it’s close.”
“That’s good, but I thought of an even better method. As you said, there’s probably no one else but me who can control you.”
“I’m not some robot that needs controlling. It is just that if you aren’t my manager, my plans of fleeing will just have a higher chance of succeeding.”
“Not only that, I also don’t want to stop being your manager. While I did say I gave up on many things, strictly speaking, I chose to become your manager because helping you is more fun and profitable for me. It’s definitely quite hard to bring someone as stubborn as you to various places, but I think it’s quite suited for me.”
“So take a two-year break and do….”
Heewon blinked several times. Joint enlistment was a program where two people would be able to enlist into the same boot camp and get assigned to the same service base. Haewon’s mention of that would mean none other than going to the military alongside him and spending two years in the same space, but it also meant that the hellish nagging would follow him for another two years.
“I didn’t mean that. I was telling you to take a two-year break while I’m not here.”
“Compared to what I’m doing right now as your manager, the military is practically a vacation for me. Don’t worry about me.”
“That’s not what I’m saying. Listen to me. I’m going to the military and-”
“So am I.”
“No. I’m saying we should spend the two years apart.”
“That’s just terribly inefficient. We should take a two-year break simultaneously and return to work together. Now that I think about it, I don’t think going to the military is a bad idea. As long as you leave a deep enough impression on the audience through this drama, it might even bring about a good reaction from them. There are many people who are getting in trouble because of military service, aren’t there? But here, there’s an actor who goes to the military on his own accord when everyone else is delaying it until they’re 30? This can even make the news. I should talk to some journalists about it. I think we can also fool the enlistment date by a day. Then, the articles would go something like this: Lee Heewon’s silent enlistment; His distinct choice.”
“I think you’ve been staying too close to the president. No wait, your words just now sounded like Han Maru’s.”
Heewon told him to reconsider, but his brother didn’t seem to have any will to relent. He immediately looked up joint enlistment on his phone and even put in a query on the military’s website.
“Hyung, let’s leave behind a really deep impression through this drama. Maru-hyung is here too. I’m sure it’ll go well. I mean, Maru-hyung’s acting is exceptional, isn’t it? He’ll definitely support the drama well. You’ll be shooting the best drama before you enlist. Good, that’s splendid news material. I’ll go talk to Maru-hyung for a bit.”
“H-hey! Haewon, Lee Haewon!”
Heewon desperately called out to his little brother, but he rushed over to where Maru was without even listening. Now, it looked like he had to suffer for two years more from super close range under his scolding.
“Should I just keep working?”
His regret was a little too late.
* * *
“It is better to go to the military as early as possible. But why do you look like you’re going to die?” Maru asked as he grabbed Heewon’s shoulder.
Heewon looked like his soul had left him. He chuckled like he had lost it, muttering that he hated his brother.
“Stop your nonsense. The director’s coming. She seems to be looking for you, so go on.”
“If I fail this drama, I wouldn’t be able to leave behind an impression, and I think I would be able to reconsider going to the military.”
“Why don’t you pray for our doom instead?”
“You don’t know how I feel.”
Maru greeted Jayeon instead of Heewon, who kept sighing. Jayeon looked at Heewon, who had shriveled up, before asking in a small voice,
“What’s up with him?”
“He’s just a peculiar guy. Don’t worry about him. He’ll do well once he starts acting.”
“Well, for me, I don’t care as long as the outcome is good. Rather than that, my husband has been nagging me these days.”
“You mean producer Park Hoon?”
“Yes. He’s grumbling about how I got to work with you before he did. No matter how many times I tell him that you’re just a minor role and that you won’t appear that much, he keeps acting mad like he’s some kid. Hey, I heard you told him that you were definitely going to work with him but didn’t live up to that promise?”
“Yes, I did that. That’s why I promised him that I’d definitely do it the next time he calls for me.”
“He’s not a kid. Anyhow, I’m really tired from receiving that man’s grumbles all week. It’s partially your fault, so don’t you dare make any NGs. I’ll definitely nag you about it.”
“I have full faith that director Yoo Jayeon isn’t someone who would let her personal feelings get in the way of work. You’re known to be very fair.”
“You’d at least look cute if you didn’t retort like that. Seeing how your mouth hasn’t changed, it puts me at ease to see that you’re just like how you were five years ago. Err, lord main actor, this humble producer has come, so can you please say hello?”
Heewon stood up powerlessly.
“Let’s do this. This is the first shoot.”
Jayeon grabbed Heewon by the arm and walked towards the set. Maru smiled at Heewon, who waved his arms around in a flurry as though he was asking for help, while waving at him.