Wednesday was the day when Hyeonu was scheduled to meet his high school classmates. Hyeonu heard a ringing early in the morning and answered it angrily, “Hello?”
Hyeonu’s hoarse voice made the other person apologize.
-Um... It is morning in Korean time. I made a mistake. I should’ve called a few hours later...
Hyeonu spoke the name of a person in English, “Kale? What’s going on so early in the morning? Is it serious?”
-It isn’t necessarily the case. I just contacted you to discuss something.
“What’s up? The sponsorship issue is over. I don’t plan to do the academy for the time being. Is there a schedule?” Hyeonu pondered on Kale’s words.
Was there something he had done? Or did Nike have anything to ask him? Was there an incident? These days, apart from going out to exercise, Hyeonu’s life was watching TV and playing Arena at home. He hadn’t written a single post in the community.
“I didn’t cause any incidents, did I?”
Kale laughed at Hyeonu’s words. -It isn’t like that. Someone made a report to us, asking for Alley Leader’s help.
‘A report? What is this...’
It was ridiculous to Hyeonu. A report...
He wasn’t a prosecutor or a policeman. What was the meaning of reporting to him?
“A report? What report?”
-He introduced himself as a player of a professional team in South Korea. He reported on the irregularities in the club.
“Then why tell me? So early in the morning...”
-I guess it is because Mister Gang is the most recognizable person in South Korea. Perhaps it is also because you created a positive image on your streams.
“Groan...” A sound leaked from Hyeonu’s mouth.
No matter how he thought about it, this was a bit wrong. What did it mean for him to take the reports of others and help them?
‘I’m just a streamer.’
Hyeonu’s irritation soared in an instant. This was soon turned into slight antipathy toward Nike.
“So what does Nike want? Do you want me to cover it in a stream?” Hyeonu’s voice was filled with subtle annoyance. It might be through the phone, but Kale had rich social experience and could understand Hyeonu’s feelings.
Kale spoke in a calm, soft tone, -We were too short-sighted. I should’ve thought about it a bit more... I apologize for this.
“It’s okay. You were thinking it was for me.”
-I’m sorry to contact you in the morning. Have a good day.
After the call with Kale, Hyeonu threw his smartphone on the bed.
‘What is this? Giving me a report.’
Hyeonu couldn’t understand no matter how he thought about it. He was just a streamer who streamed for money and a man who had nothing to do with public interest. Hyeonu stared into the air for a long time before closing his eyes.
His thoughts were so complicated in the morning.
Due to Kale’s words, Hyeonu was distracted all day long.
“Aren’t you distracted today? You seem to be comfortable with the program these days? Then from the next class, I will increase the intensity by one level.”
Hearing the personal trainer’s words, Hyeonu cursed inwardly, ‘This...’
Then he spoke with a rapid-fire speed like he was a rapper. “No. I had something on today. It is only today. I don’t think you need to change the program.”
Despite Hyeonu’s excuse, the trainer remained firm. “Everyone usually changes the level once in a while. It is time for you to change. I’ll redo the program. The next class will be divided into four sections. Let’s start with the shoulders. Good job today.”
The trainer left with these words. After several months, he had gotten to know Hyeonu well. If he stayed here, he would suffer from constant attacks and eventually things would be done as Hyeonu wanted.
“Shit... Why are things going like this today?” The annoyed Hyeonu hit his towel. Upon returning home, Hyeonu lay blankly on the sofa of the living room and didn’t even think about accessing Arena. 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour...
Time passed by like a flash. Now it was time to leave the house to attend the reunion with Yeongchan. Yeongchan called out to Hyeonu, who was still buried in the sofa and wasn’t thinking about getting up. “Hey!!! What are you doing? Aren’t you ready? We haven’t seen the kids in a long time. Are you going like this?”
Hearing Yeongchan’s shout, Hyeonu woke up and replied with a soulless expression, “Eh? Uh... I have to go out. I’m preparing now.”
Then Hyeonu entered his room to get ready. When Yeongchan saw this, he murmured, “Is that jerk crazy? Why is he like that? Did something happen?”
The current Hyeonu that Yeongchan knew was a success. Both the number of subscribers to Hyeonu’s channel and the number of streaming viewers were increasing every day. This was money. Money was piling up at a crazy pace. Additionally, Hyeonu’s body had improved with constant exercise, and his family had no more debt. Yeongchan also heard that Hyeonu’s father’s condition was improving.
“Then what is the problem?”
No matter how he thought about it, Yeongchan couldn’t find the answer and decided he should ask Hyeonu soon. Meanwhile, Hyeonu came out in a clean outfit. His hair was neatly gelled back, and he wore a white shirt with beige cotton pants. It was normal styling, but it looked good because the foundation was different. Yeongchan saw such a Hyeonu and thought inwardly, ‘Enviable bastard.’
Was there really something that such a human would worry about?
Hyeonu drove down the road in his red Porsche, and all the distractions plaguing him all day disappeared.
Hyeonu realized that he had arrived at his destination. It was a shame that he couldn’t drive a bit longer. Yeongchan also drove his own car, so they met again in front of the meeting place. Hyeonu flattened his wrinkled pants while asking Yeongchan, “Here?”
“Uuh, that’s right.”
The meeting place wasn’t suitable for two well-dressed people. It was a pork belly restaurant near a university.
“Is it this place?” Hyeonu saw the meeting place and laughed.
Pork belly and soju—it was one of Hyeonu’s favorite combinations. In the past, before his family went bankrupt and he enlisted in the military, Hyeonu also liked to eat pork belly with soju.
“Do you like it? We didn’t choose this place because of you. It is because the kids can’t afford anything else.”
All of them, except for Yeongchan and Hyeonu, were university students. His friends consisted of students who had just been discharged from the army, and the poor ones who hadn’t gone to the army. In other words, they made no money and had no money to spare.
“Well done. Though, why are you talking as if we’ve gone to expensive places? We’ve only eaten pork belly, giblets and sundae soup.”
“What about the other kids? Have they already entered?”
“Yes, they said they are in the place. We just need to go in.”
The current time was 5:30pm. It was a bit early to have dinner. As evidence of this, there was no one inside the restaurant. Hyeonu looked inside and asked Yeongchan, “Hey? There’s no one?”
“There is a room on the second floor. They must be there?”
Hyeonu nodded at Yeongchan’s answer and started walking. There were familiar faces in the room that Yeongchan entered. They were their high school classmates, and they were talking loudly like it had already been a while since they started the meeting.
Once they heard the door open, they stopped talking and turned their heads toward the door. “Ah, you’re here?”
“Yes, there is a face that is hard to see today.” Yeongchan also turned his head back to look.
Hyeonu appeared behind Yeongchan and raised his hand slightly awkwardly. It was so awkward that Hyeonu felt the hairs on his back stand up. “It has been a while, you brats.”
However, his friends had already had a few drinks and didn’t feel as awkward as Hyeonu.
“Am I a brat? This mother’s child. I should buy a lottery ticket today. I saw a precious face.”
“You should’ve called if you were discharged. I’m disappointed, Hyeonu. Are you only playing with Yeongchan?”
“In any case, show your face more often. Do you cherish yourself so much because you’re expensive?”
There was no roundabout talk among his high school friends. They went straight to the point like a muscle car driving on the Autobahn.
“I know. I’ve been busy with circumstances lately, but now it is a bit better. We can see each other more often.”
His friends paid attention to Hyeonu’s words. They seated Hyeonu and Yeongchan in empty seats and handed them some drinks.
“Take it first before speaking.” Jung Sehun, a man who looked round, followed up and poured soju for Hyeonu.
“Sehun, what have you been up to recently?” Hyeonu asked under the influence of alcohol. It was a face he hadn’t seen in a long time, and it was a welcome one.
“I’m going back to school. Haven’t you gone back to school?”
“I’m going back to school next year or the year after. It is a bit like this for now.”
“Really? I’m envious. I’m going back to school next year. It is a big deal because my credits have blown-out due to playing Arena. I think I have to drop everything and retake it.”
Unlike the serious content, Jung Sehun smiled brightly and drank. Hyeonu smiled as he looked at Jung Sehun’s face.
‘This is my friend.’
Today’s stress was being eased.
“Is this something you should say with a smile? How long have you spent playing Arena?”
Jung Sehun looked like he was stabbed by Hyeonu’s sarcastic words. It was like Caesar’s face when he was stabbed by Brutus.
“Don’t ask. It’s serious.” Jung Sehun soon broke out in a giggle. He seemed to be having fun when he talked about Arena. “My level is 180. Is there anyone else around me with a higher level?”
“Level 180 is high. Rather than a blow-out, isn’t this the level of a mortar shell?”
“Jerk, your words are so sharp. You? Aren’t you playing Arena? You’re good at the game, right? Your one game was amazing, our Hyeonu.” Jung Sehun clung to Hyeonu in a ferocious manner.
Hyeonu pulled Jung Sehun’s arm away and strangled him in return. Then Hyeonu told him, “When have you ever seen me lower than you? I’ve naturally done my third class advancement.”
Jung Sehun’s eyes curved like a villain when he heard Hyeonu’s words. It was like he had found an interesting game. Hyeonu felt anxious for some reason.
“Hey, my friends. Look over here.”
Everyone heard Jung Sehun’s cry and shifted their attention over.
Jung Sehun turned to stare at their friends. Realizing that everyone’s eyes were on him, he continued, “This is our expensive friend Gang Hyeonu, who has completed his third class advancement. Isn’t this a complete waste? He doesn’t pay attention to his friends and is putting his entire life into Arena. What should we do?”
Hyeonu looked embarrassed by Jung Sehun’s incitement.
“Besides me, Yeongchan also has his third class advancement. I’m not the only one.”
However, his friends were incited and couldn’t hear Hyeonu’s words anymore. His words were empty echoes that only came back to him.
“Let’s punish him!!”
They were approaching Hyeonu when a man opened the door and walked in.
“Everybody has gathered?”
The hot atmosphere cooled down.