My First Lead

Elisa wishes she could be the female lead in a Korean drama. Little does she know, her wish is about to come true...and it ain't as pretty as she thinks.

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2. II. Dae Wants In

Dae

Chin Dae didn't want to open his eyes. What was the point? He already knew everything that would happen; knew all the faces he would see and everything that'd be said. Couldn't he just pause the world for a day?

Nah. He knew that was idiotic. Still, what could he do to make this day different from the others? He thought of this as he let his long legs stretch out of the mattress and into the bathroom.

It didn't have to be anything big. Maybe he could cook something else for breakfast other than ramen and rice. He liked that idea. He washed his hands and headed towards the kitchen, his excitement increasing at every step. Why had he stopped cooking in the first place?

The empty pantry provided that answer for him. So did the empty fridge.

"That's why," he muttered before releasing a sigh.

Useless roommate #1, Choi Kwangsoo, walked in rubbing his eyes.

"You're up early. Are you making the coffee?"

"Do we have any?"

"Yeah! It's right over..." Kwangsoo shuffled some stuff around. "Hmmm...that's weird. Well, at least there's cereal!"

Dae leaned on the wall, arms crossed, waiting how long it would take for this idiot to realise--

"There's no food. That's weird."

"Do you ever shop for groceries?" Kwangsoo stayed silent. "Does anyone?"

"Don't worry! I'll go to the store real quick and make something delicious for us."

"That's fine. I don't trust you with my kitchen anymore."

Kwangsoo chuckled. "Why? I'm not setting the kitchen on fire!" Dae raised an eyebrow. "Again."

Dae rolled his eyes. "Whatever. I'm not hungry anymore." He dragged his feet all the way to his desk on the living room. He had conditioned a small section of the apartment as his working station; complete with a desk to draw on and a computer to digitalise his work. The perfect corner for a webtoon artist.

However, that blank page kept aggressively staring at him. It was both frustrating and intimidating. What was happening to him? He had an audience to please.

The door slammed, and then there was footsteps. For a moment, he thought he was still dealing with Kwangsoo, but upon looking he realised he was actually facing useless roommate #2: Hyung Junghee. He was carrying a plastic bag in one hand and banana milk in the other.

"Where did you go?" Dae asked, surprised to see that Junghee had left the apartment at all.

"I got hungry, so I got me some milk and a few treats."

"Did you bring anything for the rest of us?"

"Oh...sorry. I didn't."

Dae rolled his eyes again. Why did he have to be stuck with the worst roommates in the world?

"I did find Kwangsoo downstairs, though," Junghee added, "He said he'd spend the whole day at the restaurant."

Kwangsoo was definitely born lucky. His family was part of the elite, and he'd even gotten a whole restaurant for his 25th birthday. Handsome and rich: Truly a bait for paparazzi and teenage girls. If only they all knew how useless he actually was.

"Alright," Dae finally said.

"Do you want some of my milk?"

Do I want any of your disgusting spit? "No, thanks." Dae turned his back once more, to battle some more with that blank page.

But there wasn't much to be done on an empty stomach. He looked at the time on his phone. Damn, he'd been sitting there for hours! Maybe that's what was interfering with his concentration?

And what's your excuse for the past week, then?

He didn't want to think about his lack of inspiration, and since there was nothing in that apartment for him, he decided to just eat out.

There was a food tent near the building, and luckily it was also his favourite. He took a seat at the first table he spotted, and the owner approached him with a smile.

"Chin Dae! How are you doing?"

He shrugged. "Same as always."

"But you look so tired! Are you sleeping well?"

"I'm lucky to be sleeping at all, ma'am."

She tisked. "I'll bring you a double portion. You're so thin I'm afraid the wind will break you."

She walked away and all Dae could do was chuckle. "Don't forget the soju!"

He wasn't related at all to her, but she already was a much better mother than his actual mother.

That wasn't true. His mother wasn't so bad. She just sucked, and had the misfortune to had gotten stuck with such a lousy son. She definitely didn't approve of his profession, so it was a good thing that he wasn't very interested in pleasing her.

He finally got his double order of tteokbokki and sundae, and of course his alcohol. This day was starting to get a lot better.

And then there she was. Elisa, the stranger. He hadn't thought much of her at the beginning; honestly, she looked so miserable it had been hard not to pity her, but he was glad that he had. He'd listened to her story, and as crazy as it sounded, he couldn't help but feel intrigued at the whole thing.

Yes, such a thing as just dropping into another world was insane, but why couldn't insane things happen? Why did it all have to be black-and-white?

Dae felt a tingle on his way back home, and he felt it as he flipped through the illustrations she'd done, and the only way to get rid of that was by drawing. He was supposed to continue with his current webtoon, but he couldn't. This was a completely new story, and maybe he would never use it, but it was what his body was asking for right now, and he happily complied.

His day couldn't have been completed without the arrival of useless roommate #3; although, out of all three, he was probably the one Dae liked the most. Lee Haneul took off his shoes and approached the coach where Dae was currently drawing.

"You're drawing again," Haneul pointed out.

Dae smirked. "What can I say? The muse just dropped out of the sky."

Haneul took a better look. "Is this a new story?"

"Yeah."

"You're not finishing 'Truth Glasses'?"

Dae sighed. "I started that two years ago when I was still living with my parents...but when I look at it, it seems like it was written by someone else."

Haneul nodded.

"There's more you want to say, isn't there?" Dae asked. This was when Haneul got less likeable.

"I think you should at least make a final episode of 'Truth Glasses'. Your fans have spent two years on it; they deserve some sort of closure."

"Right. Thank you for the advice." Dae stood up, taking his sketchbook with him.

"Where are you going?" Haneul asked.

"It suddenly got stuffy in here," Dae answered before leaving the apartment yet again.

***

Dae didn't frequent cafés very often, unless he could seat outside. He also disliked the clichéd idea of the struggling artist going to a café to work, but for some reason, it seemed appropriate this time. He chose a small, round table, and was immediately approached by a petite, cheerful girl.

"Welcome! My name is Hong Miseon, and I'll be your waitress tonight. What can I get you?"

"To be honest, I'm not very familiar with the drinks here."

"That's fine! May I recommend the iced Americano? Our clients seem to like that one."

"Sure."

Miseon never stopped grinning, not even as she stepped behind the counter to prepare Dae's drink. Meanwhile, Dae looked around. It was peaceful. There weren't many people, and those who were there seemed quiet.

Something drew his eyes to the window. A sign asking for part-time employers. When Miseon came back with his drink, Dae couldn't help but ask:

"You guys need help?"

"Yes! Are you interested?"

"No, a friend is." Miseon raised her eyebrows. "Really. There's a friend."

"Okay. When she can she come for an interview?"

"That...is a good question." In fact, is he even going to see her again?

"It's a girl, isn't it?" Miseon sat right across him. "What's her name? What does she do? Is she pretty?"

"Her name's Elisa. She's okay, I guess. She's lost, definitely."

"Lost?"

Dae hesitated. How crazy would she think he is?

"Do you believe a drama can become reality?"

Miseon hadn't been expecting that question.

***

Elisa

Elisa couldn't stop thinking about that guy, Dae. What a nice name. So easy to remember. Her stomach was full thanks to him, and he had been kind and patient enough to deal with the language barrier, but it made her realise that she wouldn't get much further with her current level of Korean.

She had no idea if she'd wake up the moment she closed her eyes. Maybe she'd wake up back in her room, and all of this world would be forgotten in an hour. However, maybe she could also just hang onto it. Maybe she wouldn't wake up if she refused to do so, which is why she decided to stop thinking about it.

Elisa remember having read about a school that provided Korean lessons to foreigners, and if she was reading the names of the streets correctly, the building was somewhat close. It was actually hard to miss, since there was a huge sign with the name of the school.

She felt like giggling and clapping and jumping. She'd made it! She got something right! Elisa ran straight into the building, not noticing the café to her right, nor Dae and Miseon leaning into each other.

***

Dae

"Whoa," was all Miseon could say after Dae finished sharing Elisa's story. He didn't show her the drawings, though. Those were all his. "If that's true and this is a drama...I wonder what character I am. Good, bad. Do people root for me or for my death?"

"You're asking the right questions now," he said before taking a sip of his iced coffee. Wow, it really did taste good.

"But if this really is a drama," Miseon continued, "And she's the main character, and you helped her..."

"Yes?"

"That means you two are connected. Surely, you'll cross paths with her again."

Dae smirked, half-hoping Miseon was right. "I guess we'll see."

He looked out the window. It looked like it was about to rain.

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