“Ahaha. Look at your expression. It was just a joke.”
“I did make a rough decision, but it’s not set in stone yet. I’m still considering whether it’s better to unify the main character with the promised one or decide on the male lead regardless of the promise.”
“Did you get it?”
“Oh, you got it, even though it’s quite a difficult story.”
At Hyeona’s compliment, Suhyeon bashfully smiled and blushed.
However, contrary to the harmonious atmosphere, deep inside, he was irritated.
Ah, another writer like this.
Suhyeon could already anticipate what the writer would do in the future.
If the popularity leaned entirely to one side, it would be quickly decided, but if it was even, she would keep dragging the story by throwing weird breadcrumbs.
As the writer forcibly extends the story, the plot becomes convoluted. There was a high possibility of her moving the story in a completely different direction and throwing away her initial outline because of the pressure.
My debut work was exactly like this. Why is it the same even after dying and coming back to life?
It was a hellish time as he lost more weight even though he was already too skinny.
Shivering from the revived nightmare, Suhyeon shook his body.
I didn’t want to work with a writer who hadn’t settled on the plotline.
He thought he had completely escaped it, but fate brought another trial.
Although it was common in the industry for a story to change depending on its popularity, Suhyeon really hated such a thing.
Should I just quit since it won’t be a hit anyway? But I don’t know when the next opportunity will come…
Because of this unexpected obstacle, Suhyeon lowered his gaze to hide his uncontrollable expression.
At that moment, a tiny hand entered his view.
Ah, right. I’m a kid.
Would this be the feeling of a scientist who had a eureka moment?
It felt like a ray of hope was shining on the dark, seemingly closed future.
I completely forgot I turned into a kid because of the shock.
Suhyeon swallowed a sigh of relief.
As it was the main character’s childhood, his appearance ended in the early part of the story.
It meant he wouldn’t suffer from the terrible outline and messed-up schedule.
Right. Anyway, the adult actors will have to suffer! Not me!
Having sorted out his thoughts, Suhyeon listened to the adults’ conversation, smiling like a child.
His relaxed state even made it easy for him to show off some aegyo.
“Suhyeon, do you think you can memorize this and say it?”
While Suhyeon was sweetly talking about the good points of the script he read, the PD put down his glass with only ice left and handed him a piece of paper.
It was a part of the first episode’s script he had just read.
“To appear on TV, you need to follow the story you’ve just read. …Um, did you understand what I said?”
“Yes. I can do it.”
“You don’t have to worry about time.”
Although the PD said not to worry about time, he glanced at his wristwatch as Suhyeon looked at his mother, Jiyeon.
It was a trick to see how long it took him to memorize the script and how well he could remember the lines he had memorized.
Suhyeon, who had been one of those adults just a week ago, pretended not to see anything and took the paper handed to him by Jongsik.
There were ten lines highlighted in yellow.
It’s a part that shows the male lead’s character.
The male lead had a pretentious and cynical personality, unlike a child.
He laughed brightly, but behind people’s backs, he would mock them, and sometimes, he would use the fact that he was a child to rudely blurt out what seemed like a mistake.
Somehow, it feels like a second-life child, and I don’t like it.
Suhyeon, actually living his second life, felt a strange kinship with the character and recited the lines.
It took him a mere 3 minutes to memorize the short content.
Even after memorizing all the lines, he thought about how to make it more dramatic and passed some time until just before the PD’s eyebrows narrowed.
“…I’ve memorized it.”
“Oh! Suhyeon, you’re really fast! You read well and memorized quickly!”
“Ahem. Shall we try it now? The writer here will act as your counterpart.”
Having only been able to glance at his watch while the two women chatted, the PD rushed into the test as soon as Suhyeon finished speaking.
Perhaps intending to combine it with a screen test, he held a small camcorder.
Ah, so the frame keeps glowing when I’m being filmed? Cute and adorable, as always.
As soon as the camcorder turned on, a small screen appeared before Suhyeon.
He adjusted the screen size, position, and frame brightness by blinking his eyes.
He’d been practicing while waiting for their call, so his movements were smooth.
“Why are you in the corner? We’re going on a treasure hunt. Come play with us!”
In the meantime, Hyeona, who had adjusted her voice to sound like a little girl, read the female protagonist’s lines with energy.
It was a scene where the young Gaeun showed her curiosity after finding a boy her age among children four or five years older than her.
Suhyeon delivered his line indifferently and followed the direction to “keep his eyes on the book” by lowering his gaze.
Paying attention to the angle of the camcorder was a bonus.
“Hey, don’t be like that. You must be bored too.”
“Even when I say it’s fine, you don’t understand. Are you dumb?”
Suhyeon looked up at Hyeona.
His face was lit with the bright smile that Jiyeon had praised as “angelic.”
It was so warm and gentle that the harsh words he just said seemed like lies.
It was a beautiful, dazzling smile.
I can’t trust that my acting partner will be on the same level as me during the test.
Suhyeon could not place his trust in the other child actor.
He didn’t know their age, personality, or what works they’d been in, but the fact that they chose the male lead (himself) based on looks alone meant the same must have been true for the female lead.
I’ll need to change my acting to fit the actual situation.
He maximized his appearance so that the direction described in the script as the “young Gaeun, forgot to be angry after being captivated by young Jiwoo’s face and then takes a breath before admiring him” would come naturally.
His beauty, which even Suhyeon doubted to be human, along with a practiced smile he had perfected until his muscles spasmed, made that absurd direction possible.
Hyeona was supposed to continue the dialogue by reading the next line, but she merely blinked.
The PD is filming my neck instead of my face. …Did I go too far?
Suhyeon felt awkward in the sudden silence around him.
The “smile that could be called a special skill” that he had perfected by looking in the mirror for three days had too much destructive power.
“…I’ve heard that stars are different from the beginning. There really is such a thing as a halo effect.”
“I don’t think there’s a need to see more. Just memorize the lines and keep your facial acting as it is….”
With the results exceeding their expectations, the PD and the writer checked other matters instead of testing Suhyeon further.
The minor checks included whether his charm was as evident on screen as in person and whether he was shy around unfamiliar adults.
“Alright then. Shall we write up the contract?”
Having finished their checks, the PD took out a stiff file folder, looking at Suhyeon with a covetous gaze.
In contrast to their first meeting, he rushed the contract.
It was only natural since finding a child actor under 10 with a plausible face and decent acting skills was rare.
“Suhyeon, this is the contract. Want to take a look?”
Though still young, Suhyeon was the party to the contract, so the contract was handed to him first.
He gladly wondered how to review it.
An inexperienced child actor would get 100,000 won at most, maybe 200,000.
Suhyeon skimmed through the small numbers and checked the content.
As it was made based on adult actors, the rest didn’t differ much except for the amount.
As he listened to the adults’ conversation in the background, Suhyeon wondered if there were any benefits he could get.
Something trivial but advantageous.
After pondering for a while, a suitable request crossed his mind.
“…Alright. Is there anything you want, Suhyeon?”
“Um, PD, sir.”
“I saw it on TV. They said good kids grow taller and healthier if they sleep early. So… I’d like to be home and sleep before 10 PM…”
Taking advantage of the PD’s offer, Suhyeon quickly made his desired request.
He said it in a way that even a middle-aged man with a dry sensibility couldn’t help but sympathize with.
He also looked up at the PD with a very pitiful and moist gaze.
“…Is that not possible?”
He chose “guaranteed sleep” as the only thing he could demand.
For Suhyeon, a child, it was an essential requirement that adults might dismiss as “merely.”
Up to the industry standard’? Forget that. I’m going home to sleep comfortably. You know how important sleep is for a child.
Other than genetics, stress and irregular sleep made up a large portion of why child actors were short.
Suhyeon was unwilling to sacrifice his bright future for the present.
“Of course! Suhyeon, this is a regular terrestrial broadcast! That’s a given.”
“Then can I add it to this contract?”
Suhyeon, who didn’t trust verbal promises, looked at the two adults with a gaze like a cat who had been caught in the rain.
It was a bonus that he slowly blinked to express his innocence.
PD Park was the first to regain his senses from the child’s gaze attack.
He prioritized gaining Suhyeon’s trust over the contract’s content and soon flashed a warm smile.
“Alright. Shall I write it here?”
Suhyeon nodded with a bright smile.
Unlike those who thought, “How clever he is,” he was genuinely planning to flaunt the contract if the production team mentioned working late into the night.
Contracts should be made carefully. But then again, which rookie would dare to protest at the risk of hurting them?
Even if it were written in the contract terms, most rookies would be too afraid of the repercussions to protest.
But Suhyeon was different.
They won’t suspect a five-year-old was so calculating behind the scenes, even if I use my mom as a front.
If Jiyeon protested by holding up the contract against excessive labor or injustice, it would be protected by the frame of “a loving mother.”
It was a loophole that worked because he was too young to express his intentions.
Honestly, I want to record it too, but that’s too childish.
Suhyeon checked the additional clause the PD wrote and then diligently wrote his name in the bottom right corner.
The crooked letters, because of the lack of finger strength, marked his first contract.
* * *
Not long after writing the contract, Suhyeon received a book from Hanna.
It was a photo album that collected only the A-cuts from the photos taken for the advertisement.
“You really need to keep this as a treasure. Isn’t this a real angel?”
“You’re the lucky one. Noona saw it all in person.”
“I told you not to call me noona. Ah, but Suhyeon really looks like an angel. So cute and adorable….”
“I would have followed if I had worked from home.”
Hochan, who had just returned from work, looked at the photo album with Jiyeon and expressed his regret.
Looking at Suhyeon’s shining photos in various outfits made him question his office life.
“Whoa! Our Suhyeon, did you brush your teeth well today?”
Having won the battle with the toothbrush, Suhyeon noticed Hochan’s sullen face and ran towards him.
Hochan quickly hugged him as he wobbled, and Suhyeon shamelessly took over his lap and laughed heartily.
He was quite a charmer.
“I don’t know how we’ll send him to kindergarten.”
“Won’t a fight break out from day one to claim Suhyeon? But I think Suhyeon is too smart….”
“Dad! I want Pororo!”
“Oh my, you want to watch Pororo? Alright, just a moment~.”
As Suhyeon cut off Jiyeon’s words and shouted for Pororo, Hochan turned on the laptop with a silly grin.
Anyone could see that he was a total fool for his son.
Pororo is the best if they think their kid might be a genius.
Suhyeon stealthily checked Jiyeon’s complexion and looked at the monitor.
Since the day he signed the contract, Jiyeon observed Suhyeon with a slightly apprehensive gaze.
It must have been strange to suddenly think about a child who read and memorized Korean so well after sobering up.
It would be troublesome if I were considered a genius or if I aroused too much suspicion.
Suhyeon was good at acting.
What he wanted was to enjoy the love and attention from others, the money that came with it, and the stage where he could shine beyond his average self.
Being considered too smart and pushed toward academics was not the future he wanted.
After all, I’ve gained the ability to attract attention with my screen presence.
To escape Jiyeon’s gaze that seemed to say, “Is our child any different from the others?” Suhyeon chose to become a fan of the children’s show Pororo.
As he looked at Pororo with sparkling eyes, his mother let out a light-hearted sigh and patted his head.
When I see this child behaving so childishly, it’s easy to mistake what happened back then as my own delusion. Besides, being a hostage to his charm is actually fun.
Smiling at the bright screen, Suhyeon recalled the recent episode he watched. Drangon being angry at Pororo’s heartlessness and then preaching the importance of friendship was still cool to think about.
To include dreams, hopes, and even lessons—there’s something different about a masterpiece.
As Suhyeon was looking forward to what episode he would watch today, Hochan was distracted by the chat he received on My Mate Messenger.
It was because the link sent by his friend was not just a simple greeting.
– Hochan, isn’t this your son?
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