Life, Once Again! - Chapter 884
Her hobby was to read fashion magazines ever since she was young. Her mom used to say that it was funny how a little toddler who didn’t know how to read was fascinated with magazines. Perhaps she had admired that world even when she was too young to know about anything. Even when she entered middle school and became a trainee idol, she always carried around magazines. Just like how a faithful believer always carried around a Bible in their bag, she also read magazines of successful entertainers over and over again as a believer would their bible.
Then one day, a friend of hers, who said her dream was to become an actress, gave her a magazine containing an interview with an actress, saying that she was her role model. Hamin was fascinated by that page. That was none other than Ahn Joohyun. For the first time, Hamin went traveling with her friend to see an actress. Indeed, it was traveling. She went all the way to Busan on a day she didn’t have practice. Looking from afar, Ahn Joohyun looked like she came straight out of the magazine. There may be actresses who were prettier than her, but she was convinced that there was no one as charming as her. Only after she ran up to her did she see the manager block her way. Just as she was about to give up thinking that getting an autograph was out of the question, a hand suddenly appeared in front of her.
“I don’t have any paper with me right now, so do you want it on your clothes? If I do it on your hand it’ll get erased.”
She was wearing one of her favorite shirts, but there was no reason to hesitate. She immediately turned around and let Joohyun write on her back. The sliding sensation of the pen felt like a dream. Her friend, who was with her back then, also rejoiced.
“Still, you can’t just rush in like that next time. You might get into an accident.”
The Joohyun who slapped her back and told her to go her way had appeared in front of her eyes once again after a long time. She had not changed at all as though she had leaped through space and time from ten years ago to this studio. In fact, she became even cooler. Hamin almost leaped out of her seat and ran towards her, just like she did back in Busan.
The shoot came to a complete halt. Joohyun peeked in and asked if she was interrupting with a bright smile. Producer Kang welcomed her with his hands in the air.
“Oh no, what interruption. We were just about to get some rest as well.”
“It’s been a while, director.”
“It has, and it’s so nice to see you. What brings you here?”
“I just had a shoot nearby. I was about to go home after it, but I heard that Chatterbox was being shot, so I made a visit.”
“You should visit more often. I’d always welcome you. Since you’re here, why don’t you join the shoot for a little? We’ll give you a seat.”
Hamin thought that it was half a joke. She was sure that the producer wanted to invite Joohyun as a guest, but it was nearly impossible to scout a top-tier actor without any agreement beforehand. Producer Kang was someone who knew that.
“Shall I? I can do it if it’s just for a little.”
She did not hear wrong. Hamin looked at Joohyun walking over to the guest seats. She was an actress who was known for her refreshing personality, but Hamin didn’t know that she was someone who could decide to feature in a show arbitrarily on the spot. It was something impossible for a new actor to even think about doing. It was only possible for top-tier actors who could change the rules of a company on a whim. Producer Kang, who stood there in a daze, suddenly moved around everywhere like he was stepping on lava.
“I’m Ahn Joohyun. Hello, everyone.”
Her idol was standing right in front of her. Her mind blanked. She could not remember where she was, or what she was doing, and focused all of her brain cells on the figure in front of her.
“Unni, I mean, senior. Do you perhaps remember me?”
After she asked, she realized what an absurd question that was. After seeing Joohyun wait without a hint of displeasure despite how taken aback she must be, Hamin quickly changed her question.
“It’s natural for you not to remember. I saw you in Busan ten years ago.”
“Busan ten years ago? Sorry about that. It’s been too long. Did we meet because of work?”
“No, I was just a trainee back then, and I went to Busan to see you. When I saw you for the first time, I felt so delighted that I reflexively ran over to you, and I even got an autograph from you on the back of my shirt.”
While explaining, Hamin realized that this wasn’t the time to be doing that. She realized that talking about something that happened 10 years ago and hoping that she would remember was being too greedy of her. Taking her time away because of some private matters was not polite as well. Memories were better off as memories.
“Were there perhaps two of you? If I remember correctly, there were two high school, no, middle school girls. Anyway, two girls suddenly ran over to me and asked me for an autograph. That I remember clearly. I probably signed their shirts. One on the back, and one on the stomach.“
Joohyun rubbed her fingertips as she tried to remember. Hamin couldn’t believe it. Her idol remembered meeting her.
“Yes! The girl who you signed on the back was me. I was a fan of yours from back then.”
“Really? Nice to meet you like this.”
She quickly grabbed the hand that Joohyun reached out. When she played a minor character in a drama and received attention from the public, it didn’t feel all that real to her. She even slightly doubted the fact that she was an actress even when Chatterbox reached out to her. But now, she could be sure. She had become an actress. She could call Ahn Joohyun her senior without issue.
It felt as though God was saying that luck was on her side today. Just getting a call from Lee Hyuk, who she was close enough to forgo the honorifics but not contact personally, was lucky enough already, but now Ahn Joohyun, whom she had admired most of her life, came to visit the studio as well. Not only that, she even said that she was willing to join the shoot. She did not know what would happen for the remainder of the shoot, but she even had the confidence that she would be at the center.
Just as she was about to call out to her again, she discovered that Joohyun was looking past her shoulders.
Joohyun walked past her. Hamin only mouthed her words and turned around. There were still many things that she wanted to talk about, but she had no choice but to lower her raised hand. She couldn’t grab her.
Was she going to greet Han Maru now? Joohyun looked at him for a while before finally speaking,
“How’s it going?”
She sounded very intimate.
“What brings you here?”
“Didn’t you just hear all that? I came here because I heard that Chatterbox was being recorded. You’re doing your first TV show, so I can’t just pass by. I might be able to see something interesting.”
“You probably won’t get to see much. I’m actually doing quite well.”
“I’m sure you are. Director, you’re going to start shooting from the entrance shot, right? It’ll be strange if I’m suddenly sitting down here.”
Producer Kang, who was next to her, nodded.
“But hey, you seem to be acquainted with Mr. Han Maru.”
“He’s a junior I cherish and one I feel grateful for. I have a debt to him, so I’m going to pay him back a little today.”
“Miss Joohyun owes a debt?”
Joohyun stood up and walked towards the back of the studio as though she had no intention of resolving producer Kang’s curiosity. It was where the camera would have an easier time shooting. She seemed to have already realized how to make herself look good during her entrance. Outside the view of the camera, Joohyun was putting on her wireless mic. The producer and the writers talked to the hosts. They were probably discussing how to proceed with the show.
Hamin looked at Joohyun before looking at Maru again. Just what was this guy? Just going by what happened between him and Giwoo, he was someone who betrayed other people’s trust and was someone who would egotistically take care of himself. However, the best entertainers and actors in the industry were looking out for him. It was a strange thing. To consider them all as idiots, their reputations were too incredible.
Above all, she was shocked by how Ahn Joohyun acted quite close to him. There was no way an actress who was bold enough to wage war against the media would stand up for a less-than-decent human. Not only that, she was indebted? Everyone was acknowledging Maru’s skills and character. Even Choi Younghoon, who met Maru for the first time today, said that Maru was a ‘decent guy.’ He may look like he said whatever he wanted to, but he would become very polite once the cameras were off, yet out of the four guests, he only treated Maru comfortably. It meant that he wanted to get close to Maru regardless of business.
During the three-hour shoot, Hamin kept observing Maru. The cheesy yet novel way of introducing himself during the opening, his reactions and talking skills during the talk, as well as the encouragement from many famous people; everything was pointing to the fact that Han Maru was a decent person with skills. There was nothing bad about him. It wasn’t that he derogated anyone in order to raise himself to a pedestal either. He was powerful when he was talking and humorous when he tossed the words to another person. Even without the support from many famous people, he would have probably gained the spotlight. She had to admit, he was above her in every single aspect.
Hamin imagined what would have happened without the phone interview with Lee Hyuk. The atmosphere wouldn’t have changed, and she would not have been able to attract any interest.
“I’m not such a bad guy,” Maru said.
The out-of-context words made her heart sink. It seemed that he had discovered her staring at him strangely. Looking back, she was indeed too conscious of him.
“It’s not that….”
She was about to make an excuse, but she stayed quiet. She did not want to lie. It was a foolish thing to change what was on her mind in order to escape a momentary crisis.
“Since it’s come down to this, I’ll tell you. Actually, I’ve heard bad things about you, Mr. Han Maru. I can’t tell you who told me, but that person….”
“Kang Giwoo, right?”
At this point, it was scary. She involuntarily had to stay silent twice in a row now. It was a good thing that the camera wasn’t rolling. There was a problem with Joohyun’s microphone, which delayed the shoot.
“I don’t have anything to tell you. People’s words weigh differently according to how much credibility you give them. Even if I stand up for myself here, it won’t sound good in your ears, Miss Hamin. Of course, I don’t think that you’re foolish enough to be swayed by just one person’s words. And, it’s all the more reason I don’t need to stand up for myself.”
He put it nicely, but in the end, what he meant was this: I don’t believe you’re an idiot who believes in nothing but that man’s words. Hamin’s eyes twitched. Kang Giwoo was a good man. The words he told her whenever she had a hard time energized her a lot.
“Giwoo prefers to say the truth while omitting one thing rather than outright lying proficiently. Think carefully about what he said about me. If he blatantly lied to you, you would have noticed it on the spot, but if he left you to deduce it, you should be able to find out what is happening.”
Seeing Maru smile, Hamin thought about what Giwoo said: about how Maru and he were friends, about how he talked to the drama writer without Maru knowing, and finally, vaguely ending the conversation while talking like Maru had done something wrong. Hamin frowned. Indeed, Giwoo did not say it properly. He just shut his mouth with a bitter expression. Everything else was her own deduction. She believed that no words were necessary. Anyone would predict a bad outcome if someone turned around with an expression like that.
“We’re ready. Let’s begin now.”
Hamin looked in front of her. Neither Maru, Joohyun, nor any of the hosts entered her eyes. That one doubt made all of her senses distant. Did something bad happen between Giwoo and Maru? Or did Giwoo induce her to think that way? No matter how hard she thought about it, she could not arrive at a conclusion. Hamin looked next to her. She saw Maru talking to Joohyun. If there was one thing that she could be sure of amidst the uncertainties, it was that Maru was someone who didn’t need Giwoo’s support. He was a ship with a smooth sail or a bird with its wings spanned.
“Something feels off if you think about it, right?” Maru said while tapping on the table.