Life, Once Again! - Chapter 99
As the group of girls walked to a karaoke bar, they started hearing swears coming from somewhere behind them .
“Hey hey, don’t look back . There are some weird people behind us . ”
Bada nodded . This was a foreign town for her, she didn’t know what kind of people lived here . In the past, she once got hit by a lady just because their eyes met . She remembered going back home crying at the time, and her brother ran outside shouting in anger .
‘He was really impatient back then . ’
Just a year ago, her brother was a very selfish villain, but he’s changed a lot since then . Almost a different person now . Honestly, that was the only reason why she bought him a gift today . Bada looked down at her bag . There was a pair of shoes she bought for her brother . She noticed how he still wore those shoes of his that were turning into rags at this point . Even when mom said he should buy a new one, he said he’d only do that when the soles fell out .
‘The way he spent money changed, too . ’
Her brother, who used to beg for expensive shoes and clothes, started buying clothes from cheap stores . Even when she went to Dongdaemun market with her brother, he grabbed a piece of clothing from a street seller saying “this stuff looks durable” . He really looked like an old man back then . Especially since the clothing he picked out looked like hiking clothes that their dad liked to wear . Do all men turn into dads or something as they age?
‘Hold on, was his shoe size 270? I don’t remember . ’
She checked this morning for sure, but she couldn’t remember all that well . So she just decided to pick a decent one .
“God damn it, if it wasn’t for that bastard . . . ”
“It’s okay, we can just beat him up some other time . ”
They could hear swears from behind them again .
“Aren’t they embarrassed?”
“Yeah . I guess guys think they look cool when they act like that . ”
Her friends laughed amongst themselves quietly, they had boys like this in their classes as well . The kids that liked to swear day in and day out . Bada swore too, but not in public like this .
“Let’s leave . ”
Bada pushed her friends’ backs, she wanted to sit down somewhere . Her friend pointed to a building with a sign on it . Ah, student discount, there it was . That must be the place .
“Han Maru, that fucking son of a bitch . ”
Just as she was about to enter, she heard someone swear again . Bada flinched . That was her brother’s name . She tried to ignore it and go inside, but alas, she already looked back .
There were four boys behind her . They didn’t look very mean or anything . Somewhat handsome, actually . But judging from the way they spoke earlier, they probably didn’t have great personalities .
“What are you looking at?”
The boy at the front glared, Bada turned around to get on her way . She was a bit afraid . If she got away here, she’d probably be able to get away with hearing a few bad words . Her friends were trying to pull her away as well . Bada nodded and started stepping down the stairs .
“Wow, what a fucking day . First Maru, and now some little brats are glaring at us?”
Again, her brother’s name . If it was a year ago, Bada would’ve stepped down without thinking another thing . But right now, she wanted to do something . Of course, these boys might not be talking about her brother . Han Maru wasn’t a common name, but there could always be others of the same name, after all . The reason why she was annoyed regardless was because of how kind her brother’s been to her in the past year . Bada glared at the boys behind her with a frown . She didn’t want to pick a fight, but she felt like glaring was warranted .
The boy in the front grabbed her left arm with an annoyed look . Bada tried to pull away, but the boy dragged her outside anyway .
“Let go of her!!”
For a moment, Bada was proud of having such good friends . She was in danger, but they were trying to help her regardless . Thanks to that, she didn’t feel so scared . As a matter of fact, the boys in front of her almost looked comical .
“You bitches . Did we beat you up or something? What are you shouting for?”
The boy who grabbed Bada shouted . Bada’s friends closed their mouths but didn’t leave Bada .
“Let go,” Bada said .
The boy didn’t let go .
“Why did you glare?”
“Because you kept swearing behind us . So what!”
“What the hell does this bitch think she is?”
The boy raised his other hand at her . Bada flinched but didn’t close her eyes . She was Han Bada, you know! The one girl who even got into fistfights with boys! The boy who was holding her frowned even deeper . Bada could feel her body get pulled forward right then . The boy was tugging her violently towards him .
Bada didn’t fall, but the paper bag in her hand ripped from the sudden shock . The clothes and shoes she bought rolled all over the floor .
Bada felt anger rise straight up to her head, the present she bought for her brother was getting dirtied to bits .
“You? How cute . Do you really have a death wish?”
The boy raised his hand, this time with the intent to actually hit her . Bada jumped forward in anger, she’s fought with her brother multiple times . She could handle this . Thinking that, she headbutted the boy’s stomach . Bada fell on the floor, and the boy fell back on his butt .
Her friends helped her up immediately . Bada got up, still huffing . The fear in her head completely disappeared after she actually attacked him .
‘What the . ’
The boy fell backward, just like that? The boy stood up, swearing at the friends around him, he seemed to be really mad . Bada looked around . She’s retaliated, so it was time to look for help from adults now . She looked around quickly . Ah, there was an older man looking at them from a nearby convenience store . Perfect . Just as she was about to shout for help, though, the man turned around with a shake of his head . Was he thinking that they were friends?
‘Oh no . ’
She could see the boy step closer . He had his fist balled up tightly, too . Would getting hit by that hurt? She started feeling sorry for her friends . She should’ve just tried to be quiet .
“Should we run?”
“L-let’s fight back . ”
“Can we win?”
Pft . Bada almost laughed . She was thankful that her friends didn’t run away . They were even thinking of fighting! What brave girls .
“Hit us, I dare you! We’re not gonna stand still!” Bada shouted .
She raised her voice for a reason, the people around them started directing their attention towards them . The boys seemed a bit surprised, too . Bada remembered that advice her brother gave her a long time ago .
– The loud one always wins . If things go badly for you, just shout . I promise it’ll be helpful . Just don’t freeze up, that should be enough .
She didn’t know what he meant back then, but she did now . The eyes directed here were all on their side, she could see the group of boys start to hesitate a little . Just as she started to calm down, the boy from the start charged at her . Oops . She didn’t realize how angry this boy was . The boy’s hand got raised up, and Bada closed her eyes tightly .
The boy flew back with a loud noise, he actually flew backward . Bada opened her eyes in surprise . In front of her was a boy she saw from the waffle shop, the scary-looking boy opened his mouth angrily .
“Well met . I was getting pretty pissed right about now, too . ”
The scary boy turned to Bada for a second .
“They’re the bad guys, right?”
Bada nodded dumbly .
“I see . You can leave now . ”
He didn’t seem to be helping her in particular . Really, he just seemed to have business with the group of boys here .
“Ah, what the actual fuck is wrong with today?!”
“Changhu, it’s so nice to see you outside of school . ”
“Dowook, you son of a bitch . ”
“Shut it . You better prepare yourself . There’s no teacher to hide behind here . ”
The boy called Dowook ran forward after finishing . Bada exclaimed a little in surprise . Dowook managed to send Changhu flying again with a kick .
“W-what the . ”
“Is he helping us?”
Her friends came over to ask if she was okay . Bada nodded .
‘In any case . . . ’
It was a four on one, but the other three boys were just watching right now . Changhu was looking at Dowook nervously, too . Bada took a look at Dowook’s back . The boy looked pretty thin all over, but he did have massive thighs .
People started gathering to see what was going on . Some adults were beginning to intervene as well . And…
“Oh! Brother . ”
Bada’s brother was one of these people, the four boys ran away as soon as the adults started gathering . Bada snorted at them before turning to look at her brother .
“What happened? What’s up with your hair?” her brother asked .
Ah, her hair probably got messed up when she got caught earlier . She started fixing up her hair again . In the meantime, her brother turned to talk to Dowook .
“Dowook . ”
“Wait, you two know each other?”
Bada looked at the two boys in front of her in confusion .
* * *
“See you tomorrow . Be careful . ”
“Yes, I’ll see you tomorrow . ”
Maru said his farewells to Junmin and Ganghwan before stepping into the convenience store where Dowook was .
“Thanks for before . ”
He already heard what happened from Bada . Maru told her it’d be best to head home, so the girls already left Myungdong at this point .
“I was just annoyed, and they happened to be a good target . I wasn’t trying to help . ”
“Well, you helped regardless . Did you eat, by the way?”
“No . ”
“You should eat, then . There’s a kimbap place right there . ”
“I’d rather have cup noodles . Are you paying?”
“I could, sure . ”
“It’s fine . I don’t want to get anything out of you . It feels weird . ”
“Weird my ass . ”
Maru stepped out and came back with cup noodles and a few rolls of kimbap .
“So, what are you doing at Myungdong, anyway?”
“ . . . . . . ”
Dowook didn’t respond and just silently ate the food in front of him . There must be something going on . For now, Maru opened a can of soda and started drinking from it . After finishing the cup noodles, he stared at the empty cup for a second before opening his mouth .
“Before I say anything else… Thanks for the thing with my dad . I can finally breathe easily at home now . ”
“Good to hear . He’s a cool guy, so I hope you get along better with him . ”
Dowook smiled . “Hah… Don’t you ever get worried about anything? I don’t get how you’re always so calm . ”
“Something happened, huh?”
Dowook wasn’t the type to talk like this . He was a proud kid, so the fact that he was opening up this easily meant something really bad happened . Dowook fell silent again . After a minute of silence, he started off with an “if” on his mouth .
“If… If your sister, who was silent for a whole decade, the one person you didn’t expect to see for the rest of your life… If she appeared out of nowhere, what the hell am I supposed to say to her?”
Maru started paying closer attention to Dowook’s words .
* * *
“I’ll be leaving . I’m sorry, dad . ”
“Soojin . ”
Soojin left the cafe biting her lips . She just sat there quietly for an hour, she still couldn’t forget the way Dowook was looking at her .
‘He still feels hurt . ’
She shouldn’t have come, it would honestly be better for her to keep living in regret as she did now . Her brother grew a lot after ten years, she could barely recognize him . But as soon as she looked into those fierce eyes of his, she realized that he was her brother after all .
‘I’m sorry . ’
Soojin started her car as soon as she got on . Today, too, she was running away . The names of countless kindergartens appeared on her head . She should volunteer during the weekdays as well so that she wouldn’t have to think .
Soojin’s red car slid down the road, making a rather depressing hum as it drove .