Chapter 799.
Sequence 7

“You still have something to look at?”

Maru took his eyes off the script.
Hyungseok was looking alternately between him and his script with a gaze mixed with expectation and anxiety.
He looked like a child by the river who was wondering what would happen if he dipped his foot into the river.

“Are you a kid?” Maru said as he put down the script.

Hyungseok was someone smart as he led a successful business, but he was like a little kid with very little independence in a set.
It was good that he chose conversation and asking questions as a way to adapt to this foreign environment, but he didn’t like the fact that the target was him.

“There’s a hill I could lean on, so it’d be a waste to be standing by myself.
Anyway, what are you really looking at? You only have four lines in this scene, don’t you?”

“Whether it’s four lines or a hundred lines, it makes me feel uneasy if I don’t keep looking.”

“Uneasy? You?”

“What, I don’t have the right to be uneasy?”

“I didn’t say that.
It was just unexpected to hear that from you.
I mean, you’re good at acting, aren’t you? It’s just four lines, so I thought you’d just deal with it like it was nothing.”

Maru thought that it’d be great if he could just deal with it like it was nothing.
He was always relaxed when he practiced his script.
After all, practice was a process without any pressure and failure was tolerable.
There was no one who would scold him because he messed up his breathing, words, and emotions during practice he was doing by himself.
It was something that he spent his own time on and was something that was wholly his own responsibility.
What made him uneasy was what came after practice.
It was like that with plays as well.
He was always nervous and uneasy during the waiting time before he started the real deal.
Whenever he saw the members of the troupe running wild on stage, there was always a sense of unease blossoming within him, worrying about if he could do well amongst those people.
As his thought process thought of the exclamations due to failure before the applause due to success, it was hard for him to be optimistic and calm his mind.
He was already living a life riddled with imperfect elements, so it was hard for him to picture a hopeful result.

The script was the sole exit that allowed him to escape the pit of nervousness that existed between practice and the real performance.
With the reason that he should consolidate the character to be conscious of the context of the situation and to bestow a sense of realism to the scene, he had written down numerous things in the corners of the script, but one thing he recently realized was that each of those actions was a way to escape the pressure given to him by the shoot.
That identity of that sense of pressure was fear.
The true identity behind the fear that seeped up between practice and the real performance was the gloomy reality embedded deeply in his life.
No matter how much he practiced, this life was the ‘true reality’.
The sense of powerlessness from the thought that he would not be able to go to the real performance.
Even before he was conscious of the terrible reality of repeated lives, his body was trembling in fear between practice and the real performance due to the sense of powerlessness that had piled up in his body.

“When I first played a minor character in a movie, I only had one line.”

“The movie that you spoke about back then? Twilight Struggles, was it?”

Maru nodded.

“It was just one line, and there was nothing special about it.
It was just a line said by a street thug after all.
Also, I practiced that line at least a thousand times.
I was uneasy.
Before my desire to do well, there was a sense of pressure from the thought that I must not fail.
That hasn’t changed even now.”

“A thousand times huh.
I can’t possibly imagine.”

“I like efficiency.
Whether it’s personal relationships or anything else.
I feel that it is desirable to gain the most for minimum investment.
But with acting, it doesn’t work that way.
It is the epitome of overinvestment and inefficiency.
Even I can tell that it’s absurd.
I even wonder if there was a need for me to go so far.
And whenever I thought that there was only one conclusion I arrived at: I am still lacking.”

The repeated lives were no different from a long period of practice.
The only thing he could do as he waited for the curtain call that had yet to arrive was endless repetitive practice.
He tried following the script and tried doing it in a different way.
The only thing he could do was to practice over and over and arrive at the best result.
The reason he was doing it, despite predicting that there would not be a dramatic end, was because everything would be over if he just gave up.

The moment he finished those words, the standby sign fell.
Maru placed his script under the desk.
The other interns also put on their gowns and waited.
Heewon appeared with arrogant steps.
Producer Jayeon was with him.

“It’s a break where you eat snacks.
Everyone sit down in your designated places and relax without being conscious of the camera.”

After giving instructions to the interns, Jayeon called Heewon and Yoonseo and took them around.
She seemed to be telling them the movement lines.

“Yoonseo, you speak from here and then turn around and sit down.
Heewon, you lean to the side.
Should we try lines? Maru can respond too.”

Yoonseo entered the break room and pulled on Heewon’s arm.
Heewon, being dragged over, sat on the edge of the table, while Yoonseo sat down on a chair as she clutched her head.

“Stop going against the seniors for god’s sake.
You won’t get anything good from fighting them.”

Maru spoke as he rested his chin on his hand,

“So you caused a ruckus again, huh.
Who did you go against this time? Senior Choi? Senior Park?”

“Senior Park.
That guy is already out to get this guy, and this guy keeps baiting him.”

“Lee Joosung, you should put a stop to it, you know? If you want to finish your internship life without trouble.”

Maru looked at Heewon before throwing a snack on the table at him.
This wasn’t an action that was agreed upon beforehand, but he had the confidence that Heewon would respond.
Indeed, Heewon caught the snack with his mouth.
He put his hand into the doctor’s gown and grumbled.

“It’s just how I am.
What am I supposed to do about it?”

“So you have no intentions of fixing yourself huh.
If you’re going to keep fighting, I guess you need more energy.
Here, take this.”

He threw another snack at him.
This was an improvisation that he could do because he was aware of the director’s nature.
Jayeon was the type of person who would welcome actors trying various things outside of the script.

Heewon caught the chocolate snack with his mouth again and pushed it into the corner of his mouth before starting to chew on it.
Seeing him act so natural as though they had practiced this beforehand, Maru thought that he was a natural.
They weren’t close enough to find out what each other was thinking through their eyes alone, but they were able to vaguely grasp what each other wanted in terms of acting.
The moment Heewon’s eyes landed on the snacks, Maru was reminded of the character’s prankster nature, and Maru had the belief that he would eat it and start goofing around again if he threw one.
Before he threw it, he put the snack between his fingers and flicked it slightly, and Heewon twitched his eyebrow as though he understood his intentions.
The fact that the skit fit together when they had no practice beforehand probably meant that the process in which they put together their acting was similar.
If there was a difference, it was that Heewon probably understood everything intuitively.
While Maru went through the process of thinking about the director’s personality, the character’s nature, and ultimately the conclusion, Heewon would probably have arrived at the conclusion ‘catch the snack’ almost instantaneously.
That was talent.
It was Heewon’s world that Maru could never understand nor wanted to understand.

“Did you two put that together?” Jayeon asked.

Maru shook his head.
He also added that there was no way a minor actor would have the time to talk to the main actor.

“Maru told me with his eyes.
He and I are in a deep relationship where we can communicate like that.”

“Who’s in a deep relationship with who?”

“See that? We’re in a deep relationship, don’t you think?” Heewon grinned.

“Try doing that once the camera starts rolling.
It was pretty decent.
I knew putting you in would liven things up.”

“Don’t say that when I haven’t done anything.
You know that putting me on a pedestal won’t get you anything good.”

“Did I say something? I only said the truth.
Well then, let’s get prepared and start rolling.”

The director turned around.
Maru snapped his finger and called Heewon.

“I’ll throw it just like last time, so catch it.”

“Sure.”

He grabbed the snack like last time and threw it at Heewon.
Heewon caught it with his mouth proficiently before winking.

“Are you two close?” Yoonseo asked him.

Before Maru could say anything, Heewon spoke before him and said ahead of him and said, ‘we’re close’.
Maru just shrugged.
The person in question said they were close, so maybe?

“I see.
Is your personality usually that bright? When I watched you just now, you seemed to be suited for the role.”

“An actor doesn’t become a murderer just because they play the role of one, right?”

“I guess that was a stupid question.
Sorry about that.
I really hate those comments too and yet I asked something similar.
She wears sexy clothes, so she must be a slut; she looks like a prostitute from the way she smiles.
I was fed up with those words too.”

Maru scratched his eyebrows.
He was talking to Heewon just now, so his words weren’t exactly gentle.

“Not at all.
I guess I put that in the wrong way too.
I only act like that when I talk with him.
As for my personality, it’s just ordinary.
Doesn’t stand out but isn’t really flawed.”

“Oh, I see.”

While they were talking, Maru turned around to look behind him.
Hyungseok was poking on his waist.
Introduce me, now.
The frown between his eyebrows was screaming that at him.

“The guy behind me says he’s a fan of yours.”

“Really? Thank you.”

Yoonseo said hello to Hyungseok.
With that, the other interns also chimed in.
Maru quietly stood up and took out the script that he placed below the desk.

“What happened between you and Gaeul last time?” Heewon asked as he pulled on the script.

Maru had been wondering why he wasn’t asking, but he didn’t know that he would ask now.

“Nothing.”

“Like hell it’s nothing.
Obviously, something happened.”

“What’s something?”

“There really was nothing?”

“Even if there was something, I have no obligation to tell you.”

“You should at least say what happened to the person who set you two up.
But I do get that you haven’t been in contact with her.
You haven’t heard that Gaeul collapsed, have you?”

Maru let go of the script.
Heewon’s hands jerked backwards, and the script flew into the air before falling back down.
People stared at the two before turning around.

“What do you mean by that? Gaeul collapsed?”

“Apparently, there was no big problem.
I think it was over-exhaustion or something.”

“Are you sure that she isn’t hurt?”

“From what I heard.
If you’re so curious, you should give her a call.
You have her number, don’t you?”

Heewon stared at him.
Maru grabbed his phone tightly inside his pocket before letting go.

“It’s fine if she isn’t hurt.”

“You should give her a call at least.
She would be sad if you don’t take interest in her when she’s hurt.”

It was right around the time he had that ominous dream.
The rabbit that decided to remain behind by herself in the darkness as well as Gaeul who fell over – for it to be a coincidence, the timing tugged on his mind.
Han Maru’s death signaled the start of a new life.
What he could deduce from the rabbit’s words was the future that would arrive after Han Gaeul’s death.
It was probably the end of the cycle of life.
Maru clenched his teeth.
He had not accepted all these new lives in order to accept such an outcome.

“Don’t make a scary expression and just try giving her a call.
Or at least text her.
You’re making me nervous.
I don’t know a lot about Gaeul, but I know that she held a big meaning to you.
Well, I’m sure you’ll get it sorted by yourself.”

Heewon told him to keep It a secret that he was the one to tell Maru the news if he was going to call Gaeul.
The reason being that he didn’t want to get beaten up.
Maru spoke as he picked up the script from the floor,

“Thanks.”

“If you appreciate it, help me out when I ditch Haewon later.
His radar is easily turned off when you’re around.
I wonder how he can trust you more than his own brother.
It’s a sad thing.”

The assistant director announced that they were going to begin soon.
Maru heaved a sigh before sitting down.
Right now, it was time to focus on work.

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