It was not the first or the second time Su Jing received a yellow card for a live broadcast. Being banned from the live broadcast room because of cursing was considered his traditional art.
The platform would not mess with the traffic, though, and would let him out with a verbal warning and a token fine.
Su Jing, returning from a doghouse, was another hero. He coolly posted an arrogant apology on Weibo, which probably read as “Although I apologise, I scolded an idiot”… and decided to bring Ji Sheng to the next few live broadcasts, making Ji Sheng a short-term fixed guest in the live broadcast room.
The effect of Ji Sheng’s participation was average at first, but with his good-looking face and decent business ability, recently the heat was quite high. Su Jing had no intention to terminate the cooperation, the live platform also pushed the boat, and Ji Sheng’s company signed several more cooperation contracts.
Although Su Jing was straightforward and had a poisonous mouth, his personality was actually quite good. He took great care of “Ji Hui”; Ji Sheng also knew his style and followed his temper when he spoke, and the cooperation between the two was unexpectedly harmonious. After getting off the camera, they could also chat a little, unlike their awkward and alienated silence at the beginning.
One day, after the live broadcast, when Ji Sheng was removing makeup backstage, Su Jing came over, pulled aside the chair and sat down. He glanced at Ji Sheng casually but was accidentally attracted by his neck: “What’s the matter with your neck?”
Ji Sheng looked down. The dressing room was a bit stuffy, so he took off his jacket to reveal a t-shirt with a loose neckline. The round neckline slipped down, and the dark red scabs on his neck that contrasted sharply with his fair skin were unsightly.
Tooth marks that had not healed yet.
Su Jing said clearly: “Xie Xuanming did it.”
He leaned over, pulled down his neckline slightly and frowned when he saw how deeply imprinted the tooth marks were: “It’s cruel enough to leave a scar.” After getting up, he commented. “What a lunatic.”
Ji Sheng pulled his neckline close: “Senior is actually good to me.”
Su Jing sneered: “That guy is like this. He is really nice when he treats you well, and he won’t recognize you after turning away.”
He thought a little and added: “Have you heard of Sheng Kongzhi, a star who has been very popular in the past two years?”
“I have heard some.”
“You don’t know what Xie Xuanming did to him. He grabbed his endorsements and roles. Even at various parties, he directly forced the organisers to choose only one…” Su Jing smirked, “Of course, Sheng Kongzhi is not a good thing either. A dog bites a dog.”
This was not the first time Ji Sheng heard of this. Xie Xuanming’s targeting of Sheng Kongzhi had been mentioned many times on the radio.
Ji Sheng raised his eyes and looked at Su Jing flatly: “Why does Brother Su tell me this?”
Su Jing paused and looked away: “Nothing, you are a bit like a certain friend of mine… I just remind you not to be naive, not to plunge into the quagmire you can’t get out of… a good deed in the memory of that friend.”
Ji Sheng was silent for a while, then smiled at Su Jing: “Thank you, Brother Su, I won’t.”
The conversation with Su Jing allowed Ji Sheng to confirm the fact that Xie Xuanming really had a grudge with Sheng Kongzhi.
Although he had heard it many times before, Ji Sheng always suspected that it was a smoke bomb thrown by Xie Xuanming for hype and publicity. After all, there were not a few people in the entertainment industry who would do whatever it took to gain popularity. Ji Sheng also knew that there was no widely publicised feud between Xie Xuanming and Sheng Kongzhi apart from “fighting for a lover”, but at most it meant a few issues that did not warrant such a big battle.
But now it seemed that Xie Xuanming was even crazier than he thought.
Ji Sheng sighed. He didn’t quite understand why Xie Xuanming wanted to make Sheng Kongzhi so desperate, but he vaguely guessed that his death was related to Sheng Kongzhi and the forces behind Sheng Kongzhi…
Now Xie Xuanming and Sheng Kongzhi were in the opposing camps…
It is enough to know this, Ji Sheng decided.
An enemy of an enemy is a friend.
Their forces can be united.
For some reason, Ji Sheng felt that if he had a good relationship with Xie Xuanming, the investigation of the cause of his death would go much smoother in the future.
Then how could he get a good relationship with Xie Xuanming?
Ji Sheng fell into contemplation.
It seemed that the quality of Xie Xuanming’s sleep was not very good…
Thinking of this, Ji Sheng had a flash of inspiration. He made a quick decision, stopped the driver and reported an address: “I’m sorry, something happened suddenly, please change it there, thank you.”
Ji Sheng returned to the villa two hours later than usual that night. When he entered the door, Xie Xuanming had finished washing and was ready to sleep.
Xie Xuanming was sitting on the bed reading the script, with a small lamp on the bedside. His posture, as if waiting for someone, made Ji Sheng more sure of his judgement and a little more confident in the next part of the process.
After Ji Sheng finished washing, he sat down on the couch with his mobile phone, leaned forward and took the initiative to talk: “Senior, do you have some sleep problems?”
Xie Xuanming said coldly: “It has nothing to do with you.”
“You asked me to stay in your bedroom because you can’t sleep, right?”
Xie Xuanming frowned slightly and looked at him: “Who told you that?”
“No one.” Ji Sheng said, “I just think so.”
Before Xie Xuanming got angry, Ji Sheng said, “Have you ever tried to listen to a lullaby to fall asleep?”
“Lullaby.” Xie Xuanming sneered and said disdainfully, “Something to coax children.”
“Then do you want to try?”
Ji Sheng persisted: “Give it a try.”
He was too noisy; Xie Xuanming stared at him blankly.
Xie Xuanming’s eyes were dark and when he stared at someone without moving, there was a creepy, eerie feeling that made people who were looked at by him shiver and turn away.
But today, this practice failed.
Ji Sheng grabbed his mobile phone; the paused audio on the screen caught his eye.
His eyes were shining and he was eager to try.
Xie Xuanming looked away and nodded reluctantly.
Ji Sheng’s face brightened, and he pressed the play button.
A shrill roar cut through the air and instantly pinned the careless Xie Xuanming to the head of the bed.
His neck stiffened and he slowly looked down to see the name of the recording on the phone screen.
【Schubert’s Lullaby. remix. 21st century heavy metal version. 】
【feat. growling drummer 】
A tornado destroying a parking lot swept through the entire bedroom with a wild beat, the glass vibrated and the clock buzzed, and everything in the room (except Ji Sheng) was eager to scramble to the door and escape.
After the song, Ji Sheng couldn’t wait: “How was it?”
Xie Xuanming was silent as if he had been baptised by Satan.
Ji Sheng continued to look expectantly.
After a dead silence, Xie Xuanming said solemnly:
“You pulled all that crap just to give me this infernal stuff…”
“…didn’t it work? I think it’s quite hypnotic.”
Xie Xuanming said one word at a time, gritting his teeth audibly: “Get. Out.”
“I recorded two hours of that…”
Ji Sheng looked at him for two seconds, got up obediently and walked out.
He didn’t need to sleep on the small couch again tonight.
Next day, Ji Sheng went to the live broadcast with dark circles under his eyes.
He spent the night restless and finally figured out that Xie Xuanming was too unpredictable a person. Pinning your hopes on him was like raising a beagle and expecting it to cook three dishes and a soup…
Ji Sheng warned himself gloomily that he needed to attack on multiple fronts and take the initiative…
Su Jing entered the door and saw him looking tired, so he asked casually, “Did you sleep well?”
Thinking of something, he added hastily: “Pretend I didn’t ask.”
Ji Sheng didn’t have the mind to refute; he leaned forward and said, “Brother Su, do you have the contact information of Senior Sheng Kongzhi?”
“Used to have, but later deleted because of some troubles. Why are you asking?”
“Actually…” Ji Sheng said, “I’m a fan. Senior Sheng Kongzhi is kind of my inspiration to play in a band…”
“Is he?” Su Jing widened his eyes, “Then you and Xie Xuanming…”
He paused: “I said bad things about Sheng Kongzhi in front of you before…”
“It’s okay, it’s okay. “Ji Sheng laughed awkwardly. “I only like to listen to his songs, nothing else…”
Su Jing looked embarrassed: “His songs are not very good…”
Ji Sheng thought that he completely agreed but continued to laugh: “Okay, okay. Everyone has different tastes, I understand…”
In recent days, Niepan did not rehearse and Ji Sheng would go directly back to the villa after the live broadcast. Xie Xuanming would come back later than him, usually two or three hours later.
However, today, as soon as Ji Sheng entered the door and turned on the lights, he was startled by a dark shadow on the couch.
“Senior, why did you come back so early today?”Ji Sheng asked, confused.
“Come here.” Xie Xuanming did not answer his question; his voice was solemn.
Ji Sheng spent a while taking off his shoes, keenly aware that Xie Xuanming was not in the right mood… Experience told him that it was best not to approach Xie Xuanming when he was in a bad mood.
Ji Sheng hesitated and did not come closer.
His passive resistance angered Xie Xuanming. He suddenly stood up from the couch, strode over, grabbed Ji Sheng’s arm and dragged him to the basement.
Ji Sheng had seen the stairs going down below the villa but he never knew what was behind the closed door.
During the process of being dragged, he looked up and saw Xie Xuanming’s gloomy expression, and various terrifying incidents such as basement murders, cannibalism and imprisonment suddenly appeared in his mind.
Ji Sheng struggled reflexively, but Xie Xuanming’s hand clutched his wrist like iron pliers. No matter how he tried to break free, it was futile.
Ji Sheng was dragged all the way to the basement. Xie Xuanming held him with one hand and patted the switch on the wall with the other.
The sudden brightness made Ji Sheng close his eyes, and then open them again. He was shocked to find that it was not a torture chamber in front of him, but only an empty room with a drum set in the center.
Ji Shen didn’t understand what kind of drum set Xie Xuanming, a singer-turned-actor, could have at home. Xie Xuanming let go of him, took something from the wall and threw it over.
Ji Sheng caught it and looked down to confirm.
A pair of drumsticks.
He looked at the drumsticks blankly, even more confused.
Xie Xuanming’s low voice sounded next to him: “So, you are a fan of Sheng Kongzhi?”
These words were no different from an explosion. Ji Sheng suddenly looked up.
Xie Xuanming appeared curious: “You started playing in a band because of Sheng Kongzhi… you weren’t making this argument before.”
Ji Sheng’s mind buzzed and he was about to flash his life-saving gold token: “I have amne…”
“Amnesia can make people become fans of stars they didn’t know before?” Xie Xuanming smiled melancholically, “It’s really fascinating.”
Ji Sheng was confused. He didn’t know why Xie Xuanming knew the content of his conversation with Su Jing, and he didn’t expect Ji Hui to tell Xie Xuanming that he didn’t know Sheng Kongzhi…
Seeing his complexion change, Xie Xuanming sneered: “There are forty basic drumming skills, right?”
He suddenly mentioned the basic drumming skills; Ji Sheng didn’t know what it meant but he nodded.
Xie Xuanming pointed with his chin at the drum set: “Sit down.”
Ji Sheng hesitated, adjusted the chair in front of the drum set and took a seat.
Xie Xuanming watched him finish tuning, his expression grim. “Play. Forty basic drumming skills. Don’t stop until I say so.”
The drums in the basement kept beating, the heavy, fast drumbeat constantly hitting the walls.
After drumming for nearly three hours, Ji Sheng was exhausted. His clothes, hair and eyelashes were all wet with sweat, his vision hazy.
He finished another set of forty basic drumming skills, and when the last drum beat faded, Ji Sheng paused for two seconds but no ‘stop’ came.
He gritted his teeth, raised his hands and the drumsticks fell again.
Since Xie Xuanming did not stop him, Ji Sheng had to continue drumming. He was Xie Xuanming’s kept substitute lover, his self-respect and personality vanishing in the face of money and power.
Although Ji Sheng was sceptical, today Xie Xuanming’s practice of making himself play the drums over and over had gone beyond the realm of sex/transaction and reached the level of a labour abuse.
Ji Sheng banged mechanically on the drums, his strength drained, his confused consciousness racked with exhaustion and anger.
Gradually, the more he beat, the more he collapsed, and the more he collapsed, the harder he tried.
In the end, Ji Sheng mercilessly squeezed out the last bit of his body’s physical energy, using all his strength to pour out his emotions in the drums.
The final drumbeat mixed with a discordant murmur.
The sound of something light hitting the ground came one moment later.
Ji Sheng clutched his belly and bent over, taking a big gulp of fresh air.
At his feet, one drumstick was broken like a dead branch, sharp wood splinters exposed in the crack, and the other, unbroken drumstick rolled for some distance and stopped at Xie Xuanming’s feet.
Xie Xuanming looked blankly, his arms crossed, as he coldly watched the young man covering his stomach and straightening up with difficulty.
The tip of his nose, his auricles and his thin lips were abnormally flushed; sweat fell from his hair, hanging on his eyelashes and getting into his eyes, finally rolling from under his eyelids, leaving wet trails that looked like tears.
The young man raised his eyes in a haze, his clear, sharp gaze cutting straight through his wretched appearance and piercing Xie Xuanming with anger.
He spoke, his voice hoarse but mocking: “Emperor Xie, are you so angry because of being deceived, or because even a substitute prefers Sheng Kongzhi to you?”