“What? What was that?”
Bada stared at him intensely. It seemed that he was a little loud because he was taken aback so she had heard him.
“Yeah, like, what interview?”
“I heard that it’s for a magazine, but I guess I’ll only find out the details if I go tomorrow.”
“Han Maru, you’re popular now, huh?”
“Like hell,” Maru said as he threw his phone on his bed.
Since he heard that the interviewee wasn’t just him, he was probably the sidekick of the interview.
He went to the kitchen and boiled some water in the coffee pot. Bada, who was sitting in the living room, shouted ‘hot choco for me’. He took out another cup before putting some cocoa powder inside.
Maru put the steaming cup right next to Bada.
“Put it on the corner of the table. It’s dangerous.”
“You’re bossing me around huh.”
He clicked his tongue and put the cup elsewhere. Bada was handling a pair of needles and some yarn with a serious expression.
“I’m making a scarf, and it’s easier than I thought it would be.”
Bada proudly showed off the wool scarf. It wasn’t long enough to be called a scarf yet as it was at most the size of a half-handkerchief.
“It’s for me?”
“Are you crazy?”
“Phew, you’re still normal. If you said it was for me, I would have called the mental hospital.”
“Then a present for father? Well, I guess his birthday is coming up soon.”
“Hey, why can’t you answer that….”
“It’s dad’s birthday soon. You’re right,” said Bada as she looked at the calendar in the kitchen. Maru sipped on his coffee. Actually, ever since he found out that it was a scarf, he already had a guess as to who it was for.
“It’s not mom’s, since she doesn’t like red. Then I guess that leaves only one person left.”
“Don’t tell oppa about it.”
“Is that oppa this oppa or….”
Maru covered the coffee mug he was holding with his hand and immediately turned around. The ball of wool hit his shoulder before falling down. Even though she threw it on the spot, it was quite strong. Han Bada, nice shoulders, eh? You should aim to be a pro baseball player.
“I’m gonna kill you.”
“I do when I’m outside.”
“It must be nearing the end of the world. Just what does he find good about a girl like her….”
As soon as he said those words, Maru stood up and ran to his room. He saw Bada panting angrily as he closed the door.
“I’m going to kill you if you open that door again!”
“Should I text Dowook that he can look forward to the present?”
“Then I’m going to kill you for real!”
“Just go back to making that scarf before my hands move by themselves. I’m going to do some studying, so stay quiet. Oh, and let’s eat jajangmyeon for dinner.”
“I don’t like jajangmyeon though.”
“Oops! My phone is turning itself on even when I didn’t do anything. Dowook, what do you think of a scarf as….”
“Also, our parent’s bedroom looked a little dirty. You should get some cleaning done in there. If you organize father’s shirts, he’ll love it.”
“I’m really going to get you back for this.”
Bada thumped on the ground outside the door before leaving. Maru put the coffee mug on the table before lying down on his bed.
“Becoming close with someone sure is hard.”
One fact he had come across as he lived one more life, was that there was no other method than approaching that person first when it came to becoming close with that person. A harmonious family, a close friend, and a faithful colleague. People with passive personalities had such people as well. That was because there were people in the world who always approached them first after breaking that barrier of difficulty and embarrassment.
Maru didn’t want to build a wall between him and his sister in this life at least. While they might not be at the level of close siblings in moving stories, he wanted to maintain a relationship where she could tell him about her worries at least.
In order to maintain that relationship, he had to keep reaching out and talking to her. He knew through the experiences of his previous life that not all families were close. In fact, the opposite can be said about it: perhaps being a family is precisely what makes them distant. Sometimes, blood relations were worse than those with strangers.
He grabbed his phone which was on the bed. When he opened it, he saw a message from Sooil.
-See you tomorrow.
“Alright. Let me borrow that famous actor’s name to get an interview done.”
Maru sent a text message to Sooil before closing his eyes.
The next day. He grabbed his bag and left his house. He briefly looked at where he placed his bike, but he shook his head. The weather was a little too cold for riding today.
“I guess it definitely is winter.”
December wasn’t far away. He wrapped his neck with his scarf one more time as he got off the bus. The news talked about early first snow, and it seemed that the first snow would be coming within the week.
The disciplinary teacher who always guarded the school gates couldn’t be seen today. That man always swung around a wooden rod with his half-balding head, but apparently, he came down with the flu.
*Cough*. Daemyung coughed while covering up his mouth with his hands even though he was already wearing a mask.
“You looked okay until a few days ago though.”
“That day, we went back home after watching a movie late at night, right? I felt a little chilly that night. I felt okay the next day, so I thought I was alright, but I came down with a fever over the weekend.”
Daemyung stopped there and coughed again.
“What do I do? I need to practice.”
“Looking after your body takes priority.”
“I feel sorry for everyone else.”
Daemyung sniffed. The back door of the classroom opened and Dowook entered.
“You have a cold as well?”
Dowook had hung a mask around his chin as well. His sharp eyes, which always made him look angry, looked lose today. He coughed before sitting down at his desk and then collapsed. He seemed to be out of the energy to even speak.
“I did hear the news that it’s quickly gotten cold, but man, this is terrible.”
Maru looked around the classroom. Teen-aged boys who had nothing but their health to boast about were all limping. He didn’t hear any news about the flu though.
Dowook coughed a few times before sitting up.
“Hey, you wore a mask all the way here. You might as well put it on properly.”
Maru pointed at Dowook’s mask as he said that. Dowook glared at him before telling him to mind his own business.
Psychology said telling someone not to do something made that person want to do it more instead. Maru narrowed his eyes and had a look at the mask. Now that he had a closer look, he saw that it wasn’t white, but pink. The texture was different from the plain mask that Daemyung was wearing.
Dowook turned around in fright. The mask strap fell off his ears and it was unfolded for him to see. There was a cute cat on the pink mask. Dowook became visibly fl.u.s.tered and grabbed the mask, but the ones that needed to see it had already seen it. It seemed that Soojin was worried about her sick brother and gave him a mask. Though, the problem was that it did not reflect her brother’s preferences at all.
Maru waved his hand at the mask. Daemyung turned around while making a noise that was a mix of a laugh and a cough.
“Don’t laugh. I’ll seriously kill you.”
“I’m not. It’s obvious that it’s a mask full of your big sister’s love. Rather than that, you’re quite amazing for wearing that in the first place.”
“Let today be your funeral.”
Dowook abruptly stood up, but he soon sat down again because he was out of energy.
“You might get your funeral earlier than me. Don’t overreact and just lie back down. Also, it suits you. Kittens are good. I can tell Soojin-noona’s aesthetics.”
“I should really throw it away.”
Dowook raised the mask as though he was about to throw it away, but then carefully put it inside his drawer. It seemed that he was going to wear it again on his way back from school.
“What a cute little brother.”
Dowook glared at him once before lying down. It seemed that he didn’t have the energy to speak.
“The club president is sick, and the other senior is sick as well. Looks like the first years will have to do their best today.”
“About that, Maru. Can I ask you to take care of them today? I was going to lead practice if I got better in the afternoon, but I don’t think it’s going to happen anytime soon.”
“I want to do that, but I have a previous engagement. I can look after them until 7, but I don’t think I can do longer than that.”
“Why don’t you guys take a break from practice today? Dowook doesn’t look like he’s in a good condition either.”
Dowook coughed a few times as he lay face-flat on his desk. Daemyung sighed before shaking his head.
“We don’t have that much time until the competition, so we can’t just take a whole day off. We should at least do a read-through before going home.”
“I can do that much, so both of you can go home right after school. Don’t ruin your body so that you end up screwing up on the important day.”
“Also, get some sleep. There’s still some time until morning homeroom.”
Maru sighed a little as he looked at his two friends lying face-flat on their desks.
Dojin, who came in late, blew his nose with a tissue as soon as he came in. It seemed that he had caught a cold as well.
“What the hell is up with all of you?”
“I don’t know. I’m dying.”
There was none of their usual vitality. Maru turned around to look at Iseul, who was outside the classroom.
“He’s been like that since yesterday. Please look after him.”
Iseul patted Dojin’s back worriedly before leaving. Maru pondered for a moment before looking at the faces of those that were sick. Now that he thought about it, all the guys that waited in the cold to watch the movie a few days ago had all caught a cold. They had shared the hot fish cake soup that they bought at the convenience store, and that seemed to be the cause of this.
“What is going on with all of you?”
Taesik, who came into the classroom with a smile, said with a dazed expression. Someone told him that everyone had caught a cold.
“You should’ve been careful. Those in bad conditions should go to the infirmary to get some medicine. Don’t push yourselves and drink warm water. If you feel something is wrong, then tell me immediately. It’d be horrible if it’s the flu.”
Taesik told the students on duty to follow him so that he could get the sick students some warm water. Maru shook his head as he looked at his three sick friends.
“You guys have nothing left if not for your health.”
“But hey, why are you the only one who’s completely fine?”
Dowook also seemed to have noticed what was in common between the people who caught a cold.
“Me? Because I have a sturdy body. Unlike you guys, I have divine protection.”
“Don’t swear and get some sleep. Your face is red because of all the heat.”
Maru pressed down on Dowook’s back before standing up. He thought that he should buy them some warm drinks from the cafeteria.
“What a bothersome bunch.”
He put his coat around the sniffing Daemyung before heading to the cafeteria.
 Black soybean noodles. Wikipedia for more info.