o normal schools. Maybe he could have become friends with normal kids if he went there?

“Bahahaha!”

“Ugh, you bitch. Please? Just 500 won?”

“Fuck off.”

People were swearing all around him. Just hearing those words made a chill run down his spine, especially since he never swore.

I have to spend three years like before again? he thought.

3 years of bullying in elementary school, 3 years of bullying in middle school. Did he have to live his life as a victim all the way through high school as well?

“You know any other places to grind? The skeleton compound no. 8 is garbage. Has too many people as well.” one of the boys complained.

“I told you, theres literally no better place.”

He heard a few kids start talking about video games behind him. They were talking about a game he played. He also did know a better place to grind. If he opened his mouth now… could he make friends with them?

He didnt end up talking to them. He was afraid of being treated coldly after approaching them. Plus, the kids looked like delinquents. They would surely ignore him if he tried to talk to them.

Yeah, maybe later… he excused himself with a thought.

Daemyung knew very well that there would be nolater. But there was no way for him to overcome 6 years of bullying so quickly. Its impossible, he found himself thinking. He could feel all the energy inside him stream out. Just like last time…

“Hey.” he heard someone behind him. Someone calling out to his friend? In any case, it couldnt be him.

“Ah, Daemyung, was it?”

“Eh, ah?”

Someone said his name? No ones said his name since… Daemyung turned back in surprise. There was a pretty tall kid standing behind him. Han Maru, was it? He remembered because of the strange name.

This kid looks like a delinquent, too… Daemyung couldnt help but start worrying.

* * *

[This kid looks like a delinquent, too…]

Yet another word bubble. Maru couldnt help but laugh a bit in surprise when he saw the bubble. Just what about him made himself look like a delinquent?

“Park Daemyung, right?” he asked.

“Ah, yeah.”

“You play World Crash?”

World Crash was the name of the game the other kids were talking about. And of course, Maru was familiar with this game as well. Why wouldnt he be? Games were practically the only thing he did with his time instead of studying. He didnt play this particular game much, though.

“Yeah, I do.” Daemyung answered.

“Whats your level?”

“Me? 23.”

Oh boy. World Crash launched just 3 days ago. Level 23 already? Just how much did this guy play?

“Hey,” Maru called out to the three kids talking nearby. “You guys play World Crash too?”

“Oh, of course. We were just talking about that,” one of them answered.

“Whats your level?”

“15.”

“What about you guys?” Maru asked the two others.

“Im 16.”

“14 here.”

They all had lower levels than Daemyung. Alright, Marus set the boy up for a very nice play here. All Daemyung needed to do now was open his mouth.

* * *

Daemyung felt his entire body freeze up. The group of three was looking at him now.

Could it be… He looked up to Maru, who motioned towards the three with his head. This guy… was he helping him? Why? There was no reason for this boy to help him.

Ah, he must be making fun of me. Things instantly became clear for him. How depressing. Theyd pretend to be his friends again before throwing him away. Hes experienced this several times in the past.

Of course it would be like that. Daemyung glanced at Maru, who was still motioning him towards the group.

You… stop acting like a nice guy.

* * *

[You… stop acting like a nice guy.]

Maru saw the word bubble as soon as his eyes met with the boy. So thats what the dude was thinking now, with that depressed face of his. Maru didnt feel any annoyance from the reaction, he just felt sorry. Just how much was Daemyung burnt in the past for him to respond to him in this manner?

The boy would surely live antisocially if left like this. Maru wouldnt interfere if thats what he wanted, but… if that wasnt the case?

“Hey,” he called out.

“W-what?”

“Are you doing this because youre comfortable being alone?”

He leaned forward so that others wouldnt be able to hear. Daemyung frowned angrily in response.

“A-are you making fun of me?” he said. He sounded clearly offended by the statement.

Maru turned to look behind him. The three kids were still looking at them.

“I didnt barge in for nothing here, right?”

“What?”

“I thought you wanted to talk with them? Sorry if I misunderstood.”

“…..”

“If you were just focusing on studying… Sorry about that.”

Daemyungs eyes were shaking a little. Maru already knew from the beginning that the boy just wanted to be friends with people.

“But… if not, why dont you start talking with them for once?”

* * *

Daemyung looked away from Maru. Maru was right. He knew that Maru was talking because he just wanted to be nice, also that he was just lashing out because he decided to misunderstand the other boys intentions on purpose.

The group of boys next to him would lose interest soon if he just continued sitting there like that.

Is it fine if I talk to them? They wont treat me weirdly again, would they? Is it really fine? All sorts of worries came up the more he thought. And hes worked so hard to try to change himself.

Crap. it was almost like hes forgotten how to talk. He could feel an awkward air start to surround him. Oh god, theyre going to make fun of him again…

“Are you trying to prepare for PT (personal training)? Why so worried? Theyre all just kids. Just talk about video games. Stop thinking about how youre going to act, just do it.” It was Maru. He had no idea what PT meant, but he understood everything else.

Those words gave Daemyung courage.

“Skeleton compound no. 8 is good, but there are better places.” he decided to continue off from where the conversation was before.

“Really?” The reaction was immediate.

“You play World Crash too?”

“Whats your level?”

Oh right, this was what conversations were like. There was no need to think. Daemyung instantly found himself becoming more comfortable.

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