Ji Sheng thought Xie Xuanming would get angry, just like the previous few times.
But the strange thing was that he didn’t.
He looked at the wretched Ji Sheng indifferently, with the lingering shadow between his eyebrows, and said coldly: “Go and wash”, then turned and walked out, leaving Ji Sheng alone and exhausted.
Ji Sheng sat on the drum chair for a while, clutching his stomach, then slowly got up after the pain somewhat subsided.
He knelt down to pick up the broken drumstick, sadness rising a little in his heart.
The better drumsticks cost thousands, and the more modest ones cost two or three hundred.
Although drumsticks were considered consumables for drummers, it was not unusual to practice for more than ten days before wearing out a pair… As a bottom-level drummer in a state of abject financial poverty, Ji Sheng was irrepressibly heartbroken.
But Ji Sheng also knew that the main source of the sharp pain in his heart was not the broken drumstick.
There was annoyance of punching cotton, and indefinable anger.
After Ji Sheng finished washing, he walked into the master bedroom without knocking. Xie Xuanming was sitting at the head of the bed, the night light overhead dimly caressing him, outlining his high nose and curtain-like eyelashes, making him look less like an unhinged lunatic and more like a gloomy beauty.
Ji Sheng had no intention of admiring the beauty. He sat down on the couch without saying a word, his brows as cold as tree branches in frost.
Xie Xuanming waited for him to sit down, put the book in his hand aside and reached to turn out the night light.
Ji Sheng waited until he was breathing steadily, then curled up and lay down on the couch.
He hugged his trembling arms and forced himself into sleep.
Over the next few days, Ji Sheng and Xie Xuanming plunged into a cold war.
Of course, this was probably just Ji Sheng’s unilaterally delusional cold war.
Because Xie Xuanming’s dull and gloomy expression was no different from the past, his eyes that fell on Ji Sheng’s face before he went to bed were also like frozen goods out of an ice cellar, steaming with a cold white mist.
Moreover, Xie Xuanming had no reason to have a cold war with a kept lover.
So Ji Sheng had enough sense to attribute the suddenly frigid atmosphere between them two to his own ignorance…
But he didn’t intend to repent for a while.
About two or three weeks after the “Forty Basic Drumming Skills” incident, Ji Sheng was rushing to the live broadcast. When he was putting on makeup in the dressing room, a few staff members whispered by his side that there was another guest coming today and that the celebrity was huge.
Su Jing came as late as ever. Although he was now in the off-season, the e-sports player’s upside-down underworld routine obviously was deep in his bone marrow. Su Jing would come in with a little yawn every day, hurriedly put on base makeup and would be pushed in front of the camera.
His foundation was not bad; even when he was placed next to the fully made-up Ji Sheng, he only looked slightly plain and haggard.
The audience in the live broadcast room often joked that the two people seemed to represent two extreme states of widowhood.
A haggard widow who died with her husband, was deep in mourning and wearing linen, and a beautiful woman who lived with her husband in her memory and was unwilling to be lonely.
At this moment the beautiful widow was closing his eyes to make up for his sleep, when he suddenly heard the sound of broken glass outside the door and the mourning widow’s angry shout:
“Who the hell allowed you to come?!”
Ji Sheng was taken aback and abruptly opened his eyes.
He straightened up; the intensity of Su Jing’s anger was obvious in his words. Even though his emotions used to fluctuate daily, being so angry was a rarity.
Before the person who had angered him could speak, Su Jing broke out again:
“You’ve got some fucking nerve coming here, a dog that eats people and doesn’t spit out bones, forcing people to die and still having the nerve to waltz out in the street! The ungrateful bastard of the underworld, pretending to be a decent man. If I were you, I would be embarrassed to dig a grave on the spot and bury myself!”
The scolded person seemed to have said something, but Ji Sheng couldn’t hear the words said in a low voice that were overshadowed by Su Jing’s angry scolding.
“Don’t be hypocritical! When he was alive, you didn’t care, now he’s dead, you fucking say you want to make amends, isn’t it fake, isn’t it cheap?”
The staff members tried to dissuade him quietly but couldn’t stop Su Jing’s aggressive cursing.
Ji Sheng hesitated, got up and walked out.
He wanted to see the situation, but after opening the door, he only saw Su Jing’s back as he walked away.
His gaze moved to the left, and in an awkward atmosphere, Xie Xuanming stood in the centre of the chaos, his downcast eyes full of disdain for the mess.
Noticing that the door opened, he looked up and met Ji Sheng’s startled gaze.
Without giving too much time for eye contact, Ji Sheng slammed the door shut again.
Xie Xuanming would naturally not squeeze into the small dressing room with Ji Sheng and share a makeup artist with him. Ji Sheng only saw him again at the beginning of the live broadcast.
Xie Xuanming’s usual image was mysterious and cold. Not to mention videos, there were no selfies. Fans could only get a glimpse of him through on-screen news pictures or unclear candids.
So imagine Xie Xuanming appearing in front of the live broadcast camera and his good bone face that had only been seen on the big screen in the past approaching the camera, frowning and looking for the beauty switch…
The audience in the live broadcast room received a critical strike. After two seconds of silence, the barrage frantically filled the screen.
Ji Sheng sat back expressionlessly.
He had to admit that Xie Xuanming had a face blessed by God, sharp eyebrows and a towering nose, and the contemptuous coldness in his eyes constituted a unique charm.
Xie Xuanming, with his aggressive looks, sat in front of the camera like a Siberian winter wolf wandering across the snow, and no amount of danger warnings could erase his mesmerising appeal.
Xie Xuanming turned off the beauty filter that came with the live broadcast, returned and sat down next to Ji Sheng.
There was only a palm distance between him and Ji Sheng, but it was like an unbreakable barrier.
Both of them deliberately ignored each other, and it was visible to the naked eye that their relationship was alienated and cold.
[A marriage-of-convenience couple that do not love each other but are united by their interests]
Someone in the barrage made an accurate evaluation.
[Disgusted to the point of not even bothering with superficial pretence]
It didn’t matter if Xie Xuanming ignored Ji Sheng, he was a big celebrity and was known as “Big Ace Xie”, so “he is Xie Xuanming” could be used to explain his disdain for anyone.
But Ji Sheng ignored Xie Xuanming as well, which was a big problem.
The one point of humiliation that Xie Xuanming could not erase was being cheated on by Ji Sheng, the tainted artist who had passed away. Ji Sheng died, and Xie Xuanming’s fans could only swallow their complaints, reluctantly adopting the attitude of ”the dead are to be honoured”. Who would think that Xie Xuanming didn’t play cards according to common sense and got a no-name newcomer who looked exactly like Ji Sheng, and even did “an immortal descends to earth” for him, taking such a cheap job as a live broadcast. The key was that the no-name didn’t appreciate it and wouldn’t even give him a look.
The man treated as a treasure was ignored by Ji Sheng as if he were air.
Xie Xuanming’s fans were full of anger; unable to direct it at their idol, they could only fire at Ji Sheng.
[Sitting with such a black face in front of the camera, can’t you even manage your expression? 】
[What are you doing? Selling goods on live broadcast without talking, are you mental?】
[Respect the advice of Senior and engrave it on your face, you have no artistic ethics at all!】
The barrage cursed fiercely, but Ji Sheng didn’t even blink. What curses had he not seen in his previous life? His stress resistance was very good. Even with eighteen Su Jing in front of him, he was a living Bodhisattva who could chant Amitabha Buddha calmly all day long.
The two were silent for a long time, and finally Ji Sheng reluctantly spoke under the anxious urging of the brand owner.
Today’s product was lipsticks; taking into account Xie Xuanming’s status, they were all well-known brand products.
Ji Sheng casually chose a familiar one and picked it up, only to find that it was a brand that he had endorsed in his previous life.
Stepping on a mine with his first step, Ji Sheng could already catch a glimpse of Xie Xuanming’s mocking gaze.
But he picked it up and it was definitely unrealistic to put it back. Ji Sheng bluntly introduced the brand and the colour, and then said, “I’ll show you the effect.”
A hand with distinct joints suddenly appeared before his eyes. Ji Sheng was taken aback for a moment and watched Xie Xuanming withdraw the lipstick from his hand.
He was going to show?
Ji Sheng’s doubts had just risen when Xie Xuanming took him by the chin and impatiently pressed the lipstick to his lips.
It was the only thing Ji Sheng could say.
He was showing it on his mouth.
After Xie Xuanming applied it three or two times, he turned Ji Sheng to the camera, still holding his chin.
The off-site staff whispered: “Smile, smile.”
“Smile,” Xie Xuanming said concisely.
Ji Sheng’s lips curled in a thin smile; he felt he was about to blurt out “Dalang, take your medicine” in the next moment(1).
Ji Sheng, with his cheek pinched, asked vaguely, “Does it look good?”
“En.” Xie Xuanming responded perfunctorily, took out the next lipstick and opened it without looking at it, “Wipe it, I’ll apply the next one.”
Ji Sheng, about to wipe off the lipstick with a tissue, felt his eye twitch when he heard these words.
He had a hunch that Xie Xuanming would try all the lipstick shades on him like experimenting on mice.
Xie Xuanming did exactly that.
By the end of the live broadcast, Ji Sheng’s lips were red and swollen from the remnants of more than a dozen lipsticks, and Xie Xuanming’s mouth was still clean, maintaining a cold, light tone.
Ji Sheng rubbed his lips vigorously with a tissue, full of resentment, when he suddenly heard Xie Xuanming speak.
“Is there any itinerary for the 12th of next month?”
“There is a lack of a drummer at the Double Twelve Light Party.” Xie Xuanming said coldly, “I will register your name if you are free.”
The Double Twelve Light Festival was regarded as one of the biggest annual parties. The artists who could participate in it were either old-timers with deep qualifications or red hot crispy fried chicken(2).
As an example, the current top star, Sheng Kongzhi, was officially announced to attend just two days ago.
Ji Sheng continued: “Senior, are you going?”
“I am an actor, not a singer.”
You debuted as a singer, Ji Sheng thought.
Sure enough, was it “won’t go anywhere if there is Sheng Kongzhi”?…
“Are you going?” Xie Xuanming asked again.
“Going,” Ji Sheng said, “Sorry to trouble Senior.”
What the two said at the end of the live broadcast was polite and harmonious, but after the camera was out and they returned to the villa in the same car, the atmosphere between the two fell to freezing point.
Xie Xuanming was the first to speak: “You are really in a hurry to get close to Sheng Kongzhi… What did Su Jing say to you?”
“He didn’t say anything.” Ji Sheng denied it and changed the subject lightly, ”Senior Xie, I have been having doubts recently.”
Xie Xuanming didn’t speak, but let him continue with a soft “en“.
Ji Sheng went on: “During the performance in Stardust Kindergarten, there was a retired station sister in the audience who said that I was “very much like an old friend”. During the live broadcasts, one anchor was a “Shengshi Shengping” cp fan, the other a former member of the Qingchu band. And Senior Sheng Kongzhi will also be present at the upcoming Double Twelve Light Party.”
Ji Sheng counted them one by one and smiled strangely: “Senior Xie, you don’t allow me to mention Senior Ji Sheng’s name, but you keep making me contact people related to Senior Ji. It’s really weird.”
Xie Xuanming said coldly: “What do you want to say?”
“Nothing. “Ji Sheng said, “I just want to lament that there is a reason for those who are popular to be popular. It’s really breathtaking to see how they play with people like with black and white chess pieces, and how unscrupulous they are to achieve their goals.”
“Not comparable to you.” Xie Xuanming smiled contemptuously and said condescendingly, “These days the standard of living has gone up and more people are seen selling their art than their bodies. It’s… naturally worth an extra effort to sell the body and the art together.”
Xie Xuanming’s words were sarcastic, but Ji Sheng shrugged indifferently.
“There’s no harm in buying and selling.” He smiled thinly, “I’m also lucky to have met a clean man free of desire while selling my art and my body. To get a couple of bucks for such a job is not unscrupulous, but a big bargain.”
- The phrase “Dalang, take your medicine” is from the episode of ‘Water Margin’ in which Wu Dalang’s wife poisons him, pretending to give him medicine.
- New and very popular