Life, Once Again! - Chapter 832
Maru came back inside. Giwoo wasn’t with him. When she signaled to him asking where Kang Giwoo was, Maru said that he’d be back soon and sat down. Gaeul pinched Maru’s thighs and asked,
“What are you two doing when you’re grown-up adults? You’re making me feel bad.”
“Don’t ‘sorry’ me. Can’t you tell me what’s going on? Is it something I shouldn’t know about? Or is it so trivial that I don’t have to know about it?”
Maru said that he would tell her later and that they should eat for now. Gaeul looked into his eyes. He was born with the conditions to become a proficient liar, but he couldn’t lie in front of her, especially when she looked into his eyes. He would probably be able to manage his expression to the point of fooling everyone if he tried to, but he did not. Gaeul believed that his actions were a form of respect, belief, and love. Maru did not look away and even put his face closer to her so that she could take a closer look. Gaeul raised the white flag first when he came closer to her.
“You’re going to tell me after we eat, right? Alright then. I’ll play along until I put down my spoon.”
Not long later, Kang Giwoo entered. The two of them didn’t change compared to before. In fact, the awkward smiles, meaningless trivial talk, and silly gestures just increased. They looked like water and oil trying to force themselves to mix with each other.
“How is it? Our restaurant’s stew is pretty good, isn’t it?”
The owner lady came with some sikhye as dessert by the time they finished their meal. Gaeul pointed at the stew that had bottomed out and said that it was really good.
“This sikhye is something I made at home, so it’ll be really good. I don’t usually give it out to people, but I’m giving you bonuses since you’re friends of young Giwoo. Go on, have a drink.”
“Thank you, I’ll visit again next time.”
The owner lady put down the cups and looked at Giwoo before thanking him. Giwoo didn’t show any reaction as though he hadn’t heard it. Was she thanking him for visiting? The owner lady then left again saying that she would bring some rice cakes.
“Looks like she really likes you, Giwoo.”
“She’s a kind auntie, so she treats everyone like that.”
She didn’t think that was true. When the two of them left, the owner lady had visited the room once. She looked around and asked if young Giwoo wasn’t around, and once she found that he wasn’t here, she turned around without regrets. Back then, there was a tray in her hands as well; it was a tray containing sikhye. It was true that she treated her customers well, but she looked after Giwoo more. While she could understand her feelings of wanting to give a famous person something more for being her regular, the expression that she had when she saw that Giwoo wasn’t here definitely did not belong to someone who was simply here to give sikhye. She looked as dejected as though she was here to do business only to find out that the person she needed to do business with was absent.
“I thought I had seen you somewhere; you are Han Gaeul, aren’t you? Sorry for not recognizing you. You looked so energetic in the drama. Who would’ve known that you’re actually a very docile girl?”
The owner lady put down the tray with rice cakes in it before grabbing Gaeul’s hand.
“I give off less of that impression if I erase my makeup.”
“No, no. It must be because I’m slow-witted. You’re really pretty. I thought it was strange when you said you were young Giwoo’s friend, but you turned out to be Han Gaeul.”
The owner lady gave her a piece of A4 paper and a sharpie and asked her for an autograph. It seemed that she was going to add it to the wall of autographs right next to the store’s entrance. She wrote ‘I hope your business goes well’ before writing her name in the corner. When she did, she found a phone right in front of her face. They took a photo together as well. The owner lady said that the photo turned out good and that she could hang one on the wall. She then had a look at Maru. Although it was for a brief moment, Gaeul saw her eyes moving around busily.
“I’m just a sidekick. No one will recognize me even if you do take a photo.”
“You, young man, look like something yourself. I’m sure you’ll become a star soon. I have a good eye for people, so don’t worry about it. You will become famous through a good piece. Don’t you forget about this place just because you become famous later. I’ve remembered your face now. It’ll be great if I could hang your autograph right next to his lady’s.”
Although she said those words, the owner lady did not ask Maru for an autograph or a photo. Maru just shrugged. After she left, Giwoo spoke,
“She’s full of energy, isn’t she?”
Gaeul finished her meal by putting the rice cake in her mouth. If the atmosphere was good, she would have continued chatting with the remaining food as snacks, but the two men were still in a cold war. At a time like this, the best thing she could do was to stand up quickly.
“Thanks for the food today. I’ll treat you next time.”
“There’s a bar right nearby. You should drink a little more.”
“I’m a little tired. Today’s the only day I can rest in the entire week, so I should go sleep at home. Giwoo, don’t you have a schedule tomorrow as well?”
“I do have a photo shoot.”
“Then you should go back and get some rest too. And you too, Maru, right?”
She left first after giving them hints. At the entrance, the autograph was already hung up. It had even been laminated already. She thought that the owner lady was pretty fast. By the next time she came here, she would be among the famous celebrity autographs on the wall. The owner lady grabbed her and told her to visit again next time. While this might look offensive, she didn’t find the owner lady hateful because of her hearty laughter. She could understand it as well after considering that this was her effort to be better off.
“My son is trying hard to be an actor too. So take care of him if you see him.”
“I’m not saying this because he’s my son; he’s really good. He’ll rise as long as he finds the opportunity. I think that I just grabbed the opportunity too.”
The owner lady stared at Giwoo as she talked about opportunities. From her words and actions, it seemed that Giwoo had helped her out in some way. She now realized why she was so eager to look for Kang Giwoo. He was the kind of guy who could never pass by a person in need, so it seemed that he had given her some help after hearing that her son was an aspiring actor. Giwoo was known to help others a lot, so it was possible.
“What a pity. I wanted to have a drink with you too.”
“We can just meet again next time.”
Once you two make-up – these words came up to her throat, but she didn’t utter them. There was no reason to leave behind words of disappointment when they were dispersing. Giwoo told her that he would get her a chauffeur service, but she said it was okay and grabbed a taxi.
“How about you, Maru?”
“I brought my car, so I’m going to call a chauffeur. Alright, go on your way.”
“Okay. I had fun today, you two. See you next time.”
Gaeul sent a text message to Maru as she got in the taxi saying that she would be waiting at home. She saw the two men facing each other through the back window of the taxi.
“Just what is going on between them?”
Gaeul sighed softly.
* * *
“Thanks for the food today. This place is pretty good.”
“I’m glad that you enjoyed it. Let’s meet again some time; that way we can get closer. Who knows? If we keep seeing each other, maybe I’ll become a friend that meets your criteria.”
“As much as I’d love it if that was the case, that probably won’t ever happen, I think.”
Seeing Maru say that with a smile, Giwoo’s neck became tense. Giwoo looked around before taking a step closer to him.
“Do you dislike me that much?”
“Why are you doing this again? Then do you like me?”
“I’m trying my best to. You are bound to meet a lot of people in life, so it would be impossible to live a social life if you make enemies with everyone you don’t like.”
“That’s true. That’s why I’m putting in the effort too so that I can talk to you face to face like this.”
“Then tell me about it. What part of me do you not like about me so much? Is it because of the things I did in the past? Of course, back then, I was in the wrong. My thinking was short, and I was immature. It’s not that I want to justify myself, but I thought that was fine back then. As you said, I was raised in a sheltered environment as the young master of a chaebol family. But I grew up and have never done anything like that since then. What you told me helped me a lot back then. You know? I’m the type of person who believes that the people who say bitter things about me are my friends. That’s the reason I think of you as a friend.”
“That’s an honor for me. The almighty Kang Giwoo considers me a friend. But perhaps it’s because of my lowly status, or maybe it’s just because I’m twisted, but I don’t think I’ll ever be in a relationship that I call ‘friends’ with you. That’s why I said that we’re in a business relationship.”
“Can you perhaps tell me the reason why? You were the one who told me that I fulfill every criteria but one. I’m not sure if I should be saying this; it’s not because of your pride, is it?”
He wanted to know what this Han Maru was thinking on the inside. Ever since this guy found out, he never did anything that other people might nitpick with. Even if he did, there was no way it would get exposed, so he practically didn’t do anything. Asking anyone about Kang Giwoo’s image would always result in an answer that would go something like ‘a good person’ or ‘someone they want to get close to.’ He always maintained that clean image. He always treated other people with goodwill regardless of the occasion, and Giwoo managed to turn that goodwill into friendship or trust. There was only one person who saw through his mask before he took it off. It was his grandfather.
“I’m sorry to say this; there are three life lessons I’ve learned over the course of my life. One, people don’t change. Two, people can’t be fixed. And three, if you still have to trust an unreliable person despite that, you must be prepared to face losses. Not just any losses, big losses,” said Maru as he folded three fingers one by one.
Giwoo was unable to hide his lips twitching. This guy was practically doing this on purpose.
“You’re saying I haven’t changed?”
“There’s no way I would under evaluate you like that, is there? I’m sure you have changed splendidly. The problem is the direction though. I’ve heard that those who were caught red-handed while committing a crime think about how not to get caught while they repent. The fact that the public opinion about you has become good and clean must mean one of two things. Of course, I believe that you’re innocent and pure. It’s just me who can’t accept that because of how twisted I am. You understand that, right?”
“You have a talent for putting people in difficult positions. I wanted to be good friends with you.”
“Let’s start off in a good business relationship. That’s how relationships work when you’re an adult, don’t they? You get close through business first and then become privately close. Please understand this twisted me with a generous heart.”
Maru picked up his phone after tapping on his shoulder. It seemed that his chauffeur service was here.
“Let’s go through our act beforehand next time. This time, we were so awkward that Gaeul noticed it. I’ll watch out as well. See you next time.”
Maru got in his car and became distant. Giwoo laughed on the spot to the point that his shoulders were jerking. He felt like he was going to go mad if he didn’t laugh. He wanted to grab anyone off the street and beat them up.
“Come pick me up asap.”
He gave his manager a call. The manager’s subservient voice calmed his frustration down. Alright, Han Maru, let’s do this properly – Giwoo looked for the number of the writer of ‘Doctors.’