Reborn as a Substitute Chapter 27

The finals were going to take place four weeks later, with an original song and an unlimited theme.

The unlimited theme was like loosening the reins, and the wild horse, Qingchu, let out a cheerful neigh and galloped towards the victory.

The members quickly settled on a repertoire, and after making a more dramatic and audience-engaging adaptation for the stage performance, rehearsals began.

The rehearsals in the first two weeks went smoothly. The choreography and stage movements were perfected over and over again, and the members were on their way to the championship, with Su Jing jokingly asking more than once where they should go to celebrate after the competition, or maybe have a little tour…

Everything seemed to be moving rapidly forward on the right track.

But accidents always happen.

Since the third week, Li Tan had been absent from rehearsals frequently. When the members asked him about the situation, he only answered vaguely that something happened at home and his embarrassed expression made it difficult to ask more.

One day, on the way to rehearse, Xie Xuanming turned a corner and suddenly heard Li Tan’s voice.

“One more week, okay? It really can’t be done in a short period of time… I will find a way, please be a little more lenient…”

Xie Xuanming listened silently; Li Tan’s voice gradually changed from eager pleading to anger and helplessness. He finally hung up the phone in annoyance and sat down weakly.

Xie Xuanming leaned against the wall motionless, intuitively feeling that something was about to happen.

He felt right. At the end of the third weekend, Li Tan came to the rental house and said that he wanted to talk to the members about something.

When Xie Xuanming came from next door, Li Tan was sitting on the sofa, holding a cigarette in one hand and holding his forehead with the other, his face gloomy and haggard.

“You know my younger brother.” He gritted his teeth and cursed angrily, “That loser kid, I knew sooner or later he will cause trouble.”

“What did he do?” Sheng Kongzhi frowned, “Gambling again?” 

Li Tan didn’t answer, just lowered his head and kept inhaling the smoke hard.

Xie Xuanming, not used to the smell of tobacco, frowned slightly, Ji Sheng glanced at him and said to Li Tan: “Put out your cigarette, Xiao Xie is not used to it.”

He asked again: “How much do you owe?”

“A hundred thousand or so.” Pressing the cigarette into the ashtray, Li Tan said in a hoarse voice.

“Fuck.” Ji Sheng and Su Jing cursed simultaneously.

They knew Li Tan’s family situation. His father was bedridden and unable to work. His mother passed away early. Li Tan started working after graduating from primary school to be able to survive with his six-year-old younger brother and his sick father.

Although in the past two years Li Tan had a stable job and his family’s situation improved a bit, in a month, together with the extra money from the performance, he would make just 5,000 to 6,000 yuan. This 100,000 yuan was an absolute huge sum for Li Tan’s family.

“What is he doing?” Su Jing’s face was flushed with anger, “He still goes out to gamble in this situation in your family.”

Li Tan raised his hand, wanting to smoke again. When he found that the cigarette was put out, he could only clench his fingers and say bitterly: “Who knows what he thinks. The debt collector came to the door and said that if he couldn’t pay it back, he would cut off one of his fingers for 10,000 yuan. My dad almost fainted when he heard it. I really…”

He couldn’t go on; the Qingchu members looked at each other, and Sheng Kongzhi said after some hesitation: “What are you going to do?”

“I have 50,000 in my account.” Li Tan said, “And then go to relatives to borrow… may be able to put together more than 10,000, the rest… my father told me to mortgage the old house for some money…”

“Isn’t your dad living in that house?” Su Jing was shocked, “You mortgage it, where will you live?” 

Li Tan slapped the sofa irritably: “I don’t know, I can’t leave dad without a place to live. I thought I really could sell a kidney and be done with it, I happen to know a few people who do this business…”

“No way!” The members of Qingchu said in unison.

Xie Xuanming frowned and said, “It is illegal to buy or sell organs.”

Ji Sheng followed up: “Xiao Xie is right, we can’t do illegal things, and this thing is not regulated and not safe. Can you live like before with one of your organs missing?”

“Then what can I do?” Li Tan rubbed his temples and said bitterly, “Watch my brother’s fingers being cut off?” 

Everyone went silent again.

“There’s actually another way.” In the silence, Ji Sheng spoke abruptly, “We have 30,000 in hand, and we can get another 15,000 if we win the competition.”

Li Tan was startled for a moment, then suddenly raised his head: “But that’s the money for the album.”

“The album can be released in the future. Can your brother’s fingers grow again after being cut off?” Ji Sheng said angrily.

“I agree with Baby Sheng.” Su Jing said.

Xie Xuanming frowned slightly, somewhat disapproving.

He was actually not so obsessed with making an album but he knew how eager Ji Sheng was to do it.

He thought for a while and said, ”Actually—”

He wanted to say that there was still 10,000 yuan that had not been deposited in the bank under his bed, but as soon as he made a sound, Ji Sheng turned to look at him and shook his head vaguely.

Xie Xuanming shut up.

Li Tan looked at the members of Qingchu with some confusion and excitement. He was very happy with the appearance of this game-breaking method, but the possibility of destroying Qingchu’s dream made him feel guilty.

He stammered: “This, how can I…”

“There is nothing to be embarrassed about.“ Sheng Kongzhi, who had been silent for a long time, suddenly said, “The band was an unstable combination from the beginning. Even if such a thing didn’t happen, Qingchu would probably dissolve after successfully releasing an album.”

His voice was as peaceful as usual: “Xiao Sheng and I will return to school in three months. It is estimated that we cannot continue the band playing life. I originally wanted to talk about it after the competition… But now it’s come up, let’s talk about it.”

Ji Sheng and Sheng Kong were going to withdraw from Qingchu.

Xie Xuanming was taken aback. He instinctively looked at Ji Sheng, but found that he was also looking at Sheng Kongzhi with an expression of astonishment, as if he had never been told about it.

Qingchu ended the conversation, stating the imminent loss of the guitarist, determining that the plans for the album would be falling through and announcing the date of the band’s dissolution.

After the competition, Qingchu would disband.

When Li Tan left, Ji Sheng calmly called, “Sheng Kongzhi, come here.”

He rarely called Sheng Kongzhi’s full name;  his expression was obviously uneasy.

Sheng Kongzhi’s face remained unchanged and he even gave Su Jing, who seemed worried, a soothing smile, as he went to the balcony with Ji Sheng.

Xie Xuanming could not resist glancing at the balcony.

Ji Sheng stood opposite Sheng Kongzhi, his expression gloomy, while Sheng Kongzhi looked helpless.

Su Jing thought he was worried about a conflict between the two and patted him on the shoulder: “Hey, lovers spat.”

Xie Xuanming retracted his gaze: “Oh.”

On the balcony, Ji Sheng said, “What about the dissolution? I never said that I was going back to school.”

“You have to go back.” It was a rare occasion for Sheng Kongzhi to be tough, “Last year, our senior year, you failed at least seven or eight subjects, and if you don’t retake them you will not get your graduation certificate.”

“I don’t care about that lousy certificate.” Ji Sheng was sullen, “Don’t lecture me like an adult.” 

“You don’t care, I care.” Sheng Kongzhi said, “During the days of playing in the band, my grade points have plummeted. I got a scholarship in my freshman year. What about my sophomore year? What about senior year? Ji Sheng, we agreed that we would take the university entrance examination together and go to the big city together. Senior year of high school was so hard, you needed to grit your teeth and survive. Now you tell me you don’t want the certificate… What do I have to think, what will you say next, that you don’t want me anymore, you just need your band, your musical dreams, your freedom!”

Ji Sheng was stunned by his tirade, and after a while he said, “Why do you… want to oppose the band and you? There is no conflict at all.”

“But the truth is there is.” Sheng Kongzhi calmed down and whispered, “The situation at my house… You also know it. My dad called me more than a dozen times and asked me when I would go back to school… It wasn’t easy for them to pay for me to go there. Not to mention anything else, at least I have to study for an undergraduate degree, and then find a job to give them a pension… But now the band hinders my plans. I  thought about telling you that I quit and you should find another bassist… but…”

Sheng Kongzhi paused: “Do you know how many times Auntie called me?”

Ji Sheng raised his eyes abruptly: “My mother?”

“Right.” Sheng Kongzhi said, “The school called her. She didn’t know how to tell you, so she asked me what the situation was and whether you could graduate…”

Ji Sheng was speechless.

Sheng Kongzhi saw him hesitate and softened his voice:

“Xiao Sheng, the band can be gathered again after it is disbanded. You can get your certificate first, wait until you graduate, find a stable job, and then play in a band, already having a solid financial foundation, okay?”

Ji Sheng and Sheng Kongzhi finished talking. The other members of Qingchu didn’t know what they talked about; Ji Sheng didn’t say anything when he came back and seemed to acquiesce in the dissolution after the final of the competition.

Li Tan had to work hard to pay his debts. Ji Sheng and Sheng Kongzhi were going back to school. Even Su Jing said after being silent for a while that it was fine, he was planning to participate in an e-sports competitions and he really couldn’t do it while in the band…

“Xiao Xie, what about you? What are you going to do?” Ji Sheng asked as he collected his things after a day of rehearsals before the finals began.

“I…” Xie Xuanming hesitated.

The man calling himself dad called him several more times, and his attitude gradually changed from tolerance to impatience.

Xie Xuanming thought that he should be going back to Xie’s house.

But he didn’t want to say it; it seemed that as long as he didn’t say it, compromise and helplessness would not exist.

Ji Sheng didn’t notice his hesitation and continued to ask, “You will be in your senior year when you go back. Where do you want to take the exam?”

“I haven’t thought about it.”

Ji Sheng threw a few music theory books into the box, stood up, and looked at Xie Xuanming: “Haven’t thought about it, or have never thought about it?”

Xie Xuanming heard some meaning in his words and raised his eyes to look over in surprise.

Ji Sheng looked at Xie Xuanming intently for a while, lowered his head, and smiled subtly: “That day at the bar, I saw the rope in your bag.

“At that time I thought, such a schoolboy-like child, not going to school, not playing, just wandering aimlessly with a piece of rope…”

“Did you pity me?” Xie Xuanming interrupted.

Pitied him, so he borrowed the rope to save him, gave him the bracelet to go to the show, took the initiative to invite him to join Qingchu, spent his energy to fix the watch, took him around, bought cotton candy and sat on the ferris wheel with him…

“You can call it pity, but it’s better to say what a pity.” Ji Sheng smiled at him, “I thought at the time, what a pity if I didn’t get to know such a beautiful child. So I knocked on your door and forcibly took you to run here and there… Did you wonder in your heart what was wrong with this big brother, he is rude, has no sense of boundaries and rolls around like a noisy hamster.”

“No.” Xie Xuanming denied, “Brother Ji, you are very good.”

After being acknowledged, Ji Sheng smiled again. He squatted down and continued to collect his luggage, saying:

“There should be many little girls who like you. If you don’t go to school, will they be sad? Will they look over their shoulders every day and say that little handsome guy didn’t come today either… And you, your first love went abroad, haven’t you thought about going to meet him? You have 10,000 yuan in your card, that should be enough to buy a round-trip ticket. Fly over, find him and confess, be young, be unrepentant…”

Ji Sheng looked up at him with bright eyes: “This world is terrible, but there will always be a few people who care.”

“I have people who care.” Xie Xuanming whispered.


“But…” Xie Xuanming said, “I don’t have my own life.”

Ji Sheng didn’t answer, tilting his head slightly.

Xie Xuanming continued, “My mother was just shaping me into a replica of my half-brother. She was counting on the fake to enter the family and replace the original. I was my mother’s expensive tool. My life is an imitation of others. I don’t have my own life.”

He confessed his bleak life story all of a sudden; but even though his tone was as flat as if he was telling someone else’s story, the anger and loss between his words still seeped like water.

Ji Sheng was silent for a while, then said, “But the person I know is Xie Xuanming who has been shaped by your life experience.”

He looked up at Xie Xuanming, the mole at the corner of his eye dark and bright. “I really like Xiao Xie now. If you deny his existence, I will be very unhappy.

“It doesn’t matter if you don’t have your own life, it’s okay. Imitate the lives of other people and add your own colours to them. That’s your own life.”

The author has something to say:

So Xiao Xie went to drama school~ in order to perceive and imitate more lives of ”other people”~

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3 thoughts on “Reborn as a Substitute Chapter 27

  1. Ji Sheng you…take responsibility for my son!!! ( ;´꒳`;)

    Look at what happened to him after you left…my boy… *sobs*

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