Reborn as a Substitute Chapter 24

Half a month later, the preliminary round of the band competition.

The band competition required all bands to bring their own musical instruments. Su Jing relied on his indefatigable tongue to grind hard for many days and finally borrowed a complete set of musical instruments from a music shop owner.

The band could not afford to hire a hauling company, so they hired a second-hand pick-up truck at their own expense and brought the instruments to the site like an old ox pulling a broken cart.

Grunting, they moved the musical instruments to the designated waiting area, took a break for a while, and turned their heads to find that Ji Sheng was gone.

“Where is our drummer?” Li Tan asked.

“He said he saw an acquaintance and went to say hello,” Sheng Kongzhi said.

“Call him back, we’re almost ready to play.”

“Okay.” Sheng Kongzhi was about to go but saw that Xie Xuanming had already stood up and walked out first.

Ji Sheng leaned over the camera of a curly-haired girl and looked at the photos.

The young man in the preview was divided by the light, half of his face bright and half of his face dark, creating a strange sense of fragmentation.

“Are you a photographer?” Ji Sheng couldn’t take his eyes off.

“No, of course not.” The girl who was asked smiled, covering her mouth. Her bright red nails were as gorgeous as her pendant earrings. “I just like to take pictures.” ”

“Nice shot.” Ji Sheng genuinely complimented, “It captured me beautifully.”

“That’s because you are so good-looking.” The girl’s eyes curved, “Why else would I take your pictures?”

“Wow.” Ji Sheng covered his heart with an exaggerated expression, “Thank you for your recognition of my appearance.”

The girl said heartily: “You’re welcome.”

The two of them were talking and laughing until a faint voice from the side reached them.

“It’s time to play, Brother Tan told you to go back.”

The two turned their heads; Xie Xuanming stood expressionless not far away.

The girl said hesitantly, “This is your lead singer.”

“Correct.” Ji Sheng grinned and hugged Xie Xuanming, habitually pinching his cheek, “This kid looks good, you can also take his pic.”

Xie Xuanming slapped his hand away on a rare occasion. Ji Sheng was undeterred and touched him again, and was slapped away again.

“Okay.” The girl said with a smile, “You are going to prepare, compete well!”

Ji Sheng said, “I borrow your good words.”

Before he finished speaking, Xie Xuanming broke away from him and left on his own. Ji Sheng hurriedly smiled at the girl and turned to catch up.

The girl watched Ji Sheng take three or two steps and hug the lead singer’s shoulders. The lead singer reluctantly wriggled a few times. After being patted by Ji Sheng, he gave up struggling and walked forward with a large human pendant by his side.

The two figures disappeared around the corner, and the girl retracted her gaze.

So emotional.

She thought, the song selected for the preliminary round was “Stray dog”. That little lead singer looked too peaceful and quiet, who knows if he could hold up.

When Qingchu came out on stage and the performance began, the girl knew that she was overthinking it.

The gentle and delicate little lead singer on stage looked like a different person when he opened his mouth.

His voice was a bit hoarse, revealing the unique romanticism of a very young man, inexplicably reminiscent of sweet red cherries on the top of a cream cake. No matter what the flavour of the cake was, the cherries were always the most eye-catching.

But at the same time, the young lead singer was not a cherry.

He was not sweet or soft.

He was a double-edged sword, swinging at the target, ready to be drenched in blood.

He was naked, uncomfortable and angular.

Maybe the audience did not understand the chord rhythm of the song and maybe it did not understand the meaning of the words for a while.

But they all saw the injured dog, licking its wounds alone in the corner, baring its terrifyingly sharp teeth at those who tried to approach it with a collar.

It would rather die in a stinky ditch than live in iron chains.

If Ji Sheng’s “Stray dog” was unruly and debauched, Xie Xuanming’s “Stray dog” leaned towards stinging despair.

When the girl was taking Ji Sheng’s photos, she unconsciously turned the camera and put Xie Xuanming into the lens.

Qingchu got a perfect result in the preliminary round. They defeated their opponents with crushing scores and and also had the unexpected pleasure of qualifying for the next round.

After their great victory, Qingchu threw the musical instruments in the pick-up truck and happily ran to drink and celebrate. Unsurprisingly, they collapsed in broad daylight.

Ji Sheng was undoubtedly the one who went down the fastest, and Su Jing, who was madly mocking him for his poor drinking capacity and being unable to stand more than two glasses, fell down on the third glass.

Sheng Kongzhi was obviously better than these two shit shooters. He still maintained a decent smile after half a dozen beers, but his body swaying back and forth and his blurred eyes clearly showed that his inner state was different from the calm outside.

In the end, only Li Tan, an experienced alcoholic, and Xie Xuanming, a minor who could not drink, were still sitting steadily at the plastic table.

The two looked at each other for a while, then Li Tan got up and said, “I’ll go pay the bill.”

As soon as he left, Xie Xuanming stretched out his hand, trying to take Ji Sheng’s glass while no one was paying attention and steal a taste of the liquor. However, before his fingertips touched the walls of the glass, his wrist was grasped by Ji Sheng who was suddenly awake.

“What are you doing?” Xie Xuanming moved his hand guiltily but couldn’t free it.

“I want to hear a story.” Ji Sheng’s eyes were confused and he shook Xie Xuanming’s hand back and forth, “Mom, I want to hear a story.” 

“I’m not your mother.” The stress was multiplied when Xie Xuanming, the proud son of heaven, was suddenly upgraded to a young mom.

Ji Sheng said ”huh”, accepted the reality of “your mother is gone” and said softly:

“Dad, I want to hear a story.”

Xie Xuanming stretched out his hand blankly, pinched Ji Sheng’s face and pulled it to the sides as if in revenge: “I should really record it… and play it for you if you bully me later.”

“Don’t pinch.” Ji Sheng’s eyes watered, “Big brother, don’t pinch it, it hurts.”

His cry for ‘big brother’ was so powerful that Xie Xuanming stopped as if electrocuted and looked around unnaturally.

Fortunately, everyone was down.

Xie Xuanming felt guilty and relieved, and suddenly felt outraged—it was Ji Sheng who had to be ashamed, what was he ashamed of?!

“Big brother, big brother.“ Ji Sheng still didn’t stop, patting his hand coquettishly, “I want to hear a story.”

Xie Xuanming was so dazed by his shouting that he reluctantly spoke in order to stop him from continuing to shout: “Once upon a time there was a black rooster.”

“En en.”

“It went to bleach.”

“En en.”

“It turned into a white chicken and was eaten.”

“En en.”


“En en?”

“It was gone.”

“Huh?” Ji Sheng shook his hand again, dissatisfied, “I don’t want to listen to this.”

“…then what do you want to listen to?”

“A story of a real person!”

“Okay.” Xie Xuanming sighed, “There was a child who had a mother and no father, and no birthday.”

“Why was there no birthday? Obviously everyone has… birthdays.”

“Because there was no cake, no gifts and no ‘happy birthday’.” Xie Xuanming said, “Today is his eighteenth birthday. Guess, does he have a birthday this time?”

Xie Xuanming finished speaking, waiting for Ji Sheng’s response.

But Ji Sheng only looked at him blankly, motionless.

After a few seconds, he blinked twice, yawned, and fell to the table.

Xie Xuanming was silent for a while, then stretched his hand forward silently, letting Ji Sheng sleep on his arm.

What a time to pass out, he thought.

After a while, Li Tan came back. He looked at the three prone bodies and said loudly: “Let’s go back, you move one, and I will move two.”

“Okay.” Xie Xuanming helped Ji Sheng up and picked him up on his back.

Ji Sheng slept drunkenly for seven hours and only at six o’clock in the evening did he get up from the narrow bed.

He rubbed his head; his forehead was red and swollen from where he had hit it and his skull was as painful as if it had been hammered by eighteen arhats.

Ji Sheng was hard pressed to get out of bed and with the similarly swollen and dishevelled Su Jing went into the bathroom where they taunted each other.

When he took a shower, he felt that he had forgotten something, but he didn’t remember it after washing, so he just scratched his head and plunged into the ocean of music.

Ji Sheng’s work lasted for four hours. When the time approached eleven o’clock, Ji Sheng suddenly stopped writing.

A conversation resurfaced in his barren mind.

“No cake, no gifts, no ‘happy birthday’.”

“Today is his eighteenth birthday. Guess, does he have a birthday this time?”

Ji Sheng’s body stiffened inch by inch. He picked up the phone, hesitated and sent a message to Xie Xuanming.

Xie Xuanming finished washing and was about to go to bed when his mobile phone suddenly vibrated.

Unread message.

Ji Sheng [The story you told. 】

Ji Sheng【Is the protagonist yourself?】

Xie Xuanming 【Yes】

Ji Sheng【……】

Ji Sheng was silent.

Xie Xuanming waited patiently for a while, but without waiting for a reply, he heard the door of the next room slam open, followed by the banging on his own door.

He opened the door, and Ji Sheng was standing in the corridor wearing pyjamas and nondescript sneakers. Seeing Xie Xuanming open the door, Ji Sheng didn’t say a word. He clasped his wrist and dragged him out: “Follow me to a place.”

Xie Xuanming wanted to say that he was wearing slippers, at least let him change them.

But when he saw the faded lazy sheep printed on Ji Sheng’s pyjamas, he shut up.

Forget it, no matter how embarrassing he looks, it can’t be worse.

Ji Sheng dragged Xie Xuanming all the way to the underground garage used for practice.

He hurriedly fumbled for the keys and unlocked the door with his hands shaking.

“What are you doing…” Xie Xuanming looked at his hands that shook as if he was feeding chicken. He had a guess but he still said, “So anxious.”

“Nonsense, there are only fifteen fucking minutes left.“ There was a drop of sweat hanging on the tip of Ji Sheng’s nose as he angrily scolded, “What are you so leisurely for, is it your birthday or my birthday? No sense of urgency, how can you be the lead singer of Qingchu!”

Not only did he not receive a blessing for his birthday, he was also reprimanded.

Xie Xuanming was innocent. Xie Xuanming was very aggrieved.

Ji Sheng finally opened the lock and walked into the garage quickly. Xie Xuanming closed the door and turned around to see Ji Sheng already sitting down in front of the drum set.

“This is a Qingchu tradition, okay? You don’t know, you are new to it.” Ji Sheng tapped twice, found the feel and then looked up at Xie Xuanming, “Let’s start with a song to create the atmosphere.”

He raised his hands and the drumsticks officially fell.

The very rock-and-roll rhythm and Ji Sheng’s consistent unruly style were so wild that Xie Xuanming didn’t recognize it was a birthday song until the first sentence was sung.

Ji Sheng lowered his head, beating the drums, his singing mixed with the drumbeat, smashing into the listener’s ears.

This scene should’ve been a bit funny.

On a midsummer night, the young man in his sheep villagers’ pyjamas tapped out a clear rhythm, and another young man in slippers stood woodenly, silently listening to the first ‘Happy birthday’ of his life.

A crazy rock remix.

Without any exaggeration, it was quite unique.

The last drumbeat fell and Ji Sheng put down the drumsticks. He was a little short of breath. He scratched the back of his head and was about to speak when the garage door was kicked open, and Su Jing and Sheng Kongzhi hurried in with things in their hands.

Su Jing rushed up and wiped something on Xie Xuanming’s face without saying a word.

Xie Xuanming’s face felt cold, and he realized that a large swathe of cream had been pasted on him. He was wondering which infernal cake shop was still open at this point but when he looked down, he realized that Su Jing was holding a huge loaf of bread in his hand. 

Su Jing smeared Xie Xuanming into a civet cat and said with emotion: “I’ve caught up, I’ve caught up, there are four minutes left, it’s so close.”

Sheng Kongzhi breathed a sigh of relief: “Only the convenience store is open, we could only buy bread… and this…”

He took out a bag of pokey biscuits and inserted three fragrant sticks into the loaf of bread with lightning speed.

“Make a wish.”

Xie Xuanming looked at the nondescript “cake” and couldn’t laugh or cry. He opened his mouth but didn’t make a sound.

While he hesitated, Ji Sheng put away the drumsticks and walked up to him.

Xie Xuanming, looking at him with a cream on his face, was hugged tightly.

Ji Sheng patted him on the back, then raised his hand and rubbed his hair.

“Happy birthday.” There was a smile in his voice, and also rare earnestness and gentleness, “Our Xiao Xie is eighteen years old today and is going to become a healthy and happy adult.”

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10 thoughts on “Reborn as a Substitute Chapter 24

  1. Discovering how detail after detail captures XX’s heart and fills it with warmth, I can’t imagine how I could have thought I had another white moonlight (๑• . •๑)??

  2. Player Ji Sheng (F̶i̶r̶s̶t̶ ̶R̶u̶n̶):

    ! H̤i̤d̤d̤e̤n̤ ̤S̤S̤S̤ ̤e̤v̤e̤n̤t̤ !

    [Quest completed!] Win the band competition preliminary round
    # Achievement unlocked: Crush your opponents with a perfect score (+ reputation) #
    + birthday “cake” obtained

      1. I was thinking it is touching because there’s no proper cake.
        Like, surely afterwards Xiao Xie gotta proper birthday party, without the band members unfortunately, and he’s gonna remember his first celebrated birthday.
        Now that’s kinda sad.

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