>To Gaeul, Yoojin was someone that provoked her competitive spirit.
They competed for the same spot during the amateur acting class but she lost, and even after they turned 20 and they started going down the path of acting, Yoojin was a step ahead of her.
Right now, she had gotten famous first, but she believed that Yoojin would follow her sooner or later.
She knew this because they had been running side by side while looking towards the same objective.
Ever since she left for Japan, they talked a lot less than before, but no matter how long she didn’t talk to her, she felt as close and friendly to her as ever.
This would not change even in ten years, or in twenty years.
She wasn’t simply a friend; she was a competitor she had been fighting with for a long time.

“If she’s working under her mother, is she doing hair-related stuff?” Maru asked.

She shook her head and showed him some photos that Yoojin sent her before.
The photos contained a large concert stage and photos taken backstage.

“Yoojin’s mother actually runs a lot of businesses.
When we were young, she was already involved in investing in film production.
Did you know that TTO is doing concerts in Japan right now?”

“TTO? I saw one of the members during the shoot today.
He apparently came back to Korea after doing all the concerts.”

“Once they’re done with the group concert, they hold individual concerts as well.
They’re hugely popular in Japan after all.
Yoojin’s in charge of their concert outfits.
She’s not doing everything by herself, though, she’s just one of the team.
From what she says, she’s the one leading everything, but I don’t know if that’s true or not.”

“So that’s why she’s staying in Japan.”

“It’s not just TTO.
A lot of the idol bands who go to Japan seem to leave their styling to that team.
I’m sure it’s a result of her mother’s great business skills.
I heard she launched a premium hair shop in Aoyama, and apparently, the reservations are 4 months long.
The shop she’s running in Cheongdam is still doing great too.
You’ve seen senior Joohyun when I took you to that hair shop in high school, right? Apparently, she has been going there ever since that time.
I go there from time to time too.”

“I do remember.
She looked like she would be quick on the calculator.”

“Putting it like that makes it feel strange.
She’s a good person.”

Just as she smiled back at Maru, Yoojin replied.
It was an emoticon of a cute dinosaur breathing fire and stomping on the ground.
She spent ten of those in a row.
It meant that she was extremely angry and would punish her if she did not explain things properly.

-It’s been about two months since we got together.

She got a reply as soon as she sent it.

-Don’t you have any pride!? After all that crying because of him!

But both of us had a misunderstanding.
A lot of it was my fault.

-Shut up.
I’ll see you when I go back to Korea.
Both of you are so dead.
Also, tell Han Maru this.

Gaeul read the latter part of Yoojin’s text.

“What did she say?”

“Yoojin wants me to tell you this: you damn prick.
You cut off contact and escaped to the military, yet now you reached out to me saying that you’re living a sweet life? I’ll kill you when I see you.”

“I don’t think her mouth was so rough before.
No wait, was it?”

“We should kneel and beg for her forgiveness once she comes.”

Gaeul sent her a message again, asking when she was coming.

-As soon as possible.
I need to see if this is true or not with my own eyes.


-Then don’t do things that make you feel sorry.
Tell me honestly.
Are you seeing him because of sympathy or something?

-Absolutely not.

-Then you like him? You love him?

Gaeul looked at the side of Maru’s face through her peripheral vision and moved her fingers.

A lot.

-Then fine.
Just, you have to compensate for all the time I consoled you.
You’re going to have to play around me this time when I go back to Korea, alright?

-Don’t worry about it.
I’ll leave my schedule empty as much as possible.

-Geez, you’re a popular actress, so I can’t take you around all day either.
Anyway, I’ll talk to you when I get back.

* * *

Lee Yoojin put down her phone.
It was absolutely absurd.
Han Gaeul was someone who bawled her eyes out after looking like her soul had packed up its stuff and left her body on the day after Han Maru went to the military.
For a while after that, she acted like she was going to die soon.
She even felt worried that she had to leave Gaeul behind and go to Japan.
She felt relieved whenever they met in Korea and saw that she was becoming better.
But now, that girl was meeting the very man who made her suffer through all that.

“What a tenacious bunch.”

Yoojin picked up her phone again.
Gaeul and Maru could be seen in the photo, and Gaeul was smiling in delight.
It was that clear smile that she saw for the last time when in high school six years ago.
It was a smile that made her hold back from asking if she was crazy.
She couldn’t say anything when she looked so happy.
Although, she felt a little relieved because it felt like the soul that had left her had finally returned because her partner was finally by her side.

Still, it was unforgivable.
She decided to bully the two of them as a price for making her suffer all this time seemingly for nothing.
It seemed that beer was a must on her trip to Korea this time.

“Yoojin, you inside?”

I’m here.”

“Come down and say hello.
We have an important guest.”

Yoojin dressed up.
The fact that her mother had invited a guest to the house in Tokyo meant that the guest was truly important.
She met most of her guests in her shop.
She went down the stairs and saw the guest sitting on the sofa.

My name is Lee Yoojin.”

“She’s my daughter.”

Her mother’s voice could be heard from the kitchen.
The guest sitting on the sofa stood up.
His neat hairstyle and artistic fit of the suit were quite impressive.
Was this what they call a middle-aged charm?

“As I heard, you are one lively lady.
I’m Hong Janghae.
Nice to meet you.”

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