The program team negotiated with the magazine for two days and finally changed the number of photo sessions from one to two and the number of people from two to four. Under the condition of ensuring that the magazine resources that had been handed over to the second place could still be given, the first place deprived of resources was allowed to regain the right to have a photo session as well.
Ji Sheng and Xie Xuanming were the first to arrive at ILS studio.
The theme design for the photo session was determined and sent to the program party for review the day before. When they arrived at the scene, Xie Xuanming and Ji Sheng were directly bundled into the dressing room.
The theme of the photo session was “The Devil and the Believer”. As newcomers to the entertainment industry, Xie Xuanming and Ji Sheng did not have the right to choose. The photographer had already decided that the “Devil” was Ji Sheng and the “Believer” was Xie Xuanming based on their looks and temperament.
Ji Sheng’s hair was cut a little but was still kept at shoulder length. The long, straight style was also suitable for creating a devilish, evil look.
Xie Xuanming’s look was simpler and was done first; he looked around a little, then his eyes wandered to Ji Sheng and he came over.
Ji Sheng sat on a chair while the make-up artist grabbed his hand and added elements to his wrist. He sat bored, when he suddenly felt a gentle tug on the loose ends of his hair.
Ji Sheng raised his head and saw Xie Xuanming.
“Xiao Xie.“ He teased familiarly, “Don’t you feel like the stinky little boy who
tugs at the tails of a girl’s hair now?”
“En.“ Xie Xuanming responded casually and said nonsensically, “You shouldn’t have showed your middle finger on the camera.”
“…it’s been several days and now you remember to say this?“ Ji Sheng felt a little funny, “Xie Xuanming, aren’t you a little too slow to respond?“
“You shouldn’t hit people,” Xie Xuanming said to him.
“Don’t you want to hit him? That bastard.”
“…would like to, but others——”
“Then it’s over.“ Ji Sheng waved his hand carelessly and almost hit the makeup artist. He nodded and apologised, then put his hand on the back of his chair again, “I don’t care what other people think as long as Xiao Xie is happy.“
He looked up at Xie Xuanming and said with a smile: “Otherwise, why do you think I don’t cut my hair?”
Xie Xuanming didn’t expect that his sentence “I just like it” would be actually noticed by Ji Sheng. He didn’t know how to react for a while, touched his nose in embarrassment and let out a vague “oh”.
Ji Sheng still smiled brightly: “So Xiao Xie, are you happy now?”
I’m never unhappy while I am with you…
Xie Xuanming gently curled down the end of his supple hair: “I am very happy.”
Xie Xuanming was very happy to be able to take photos with Ji Sheng. Unfortunately this session did not require any interaction between the models. The content of the two-person shooting was always the Devil on the top, looking down at the Believer below, or the two passing by each other and the Believer suddenly turning his head and looking at the Devil’s back…
There was physical interaction but it only appeared in a single shot.
In a single picture Xie Xuanming needed to create a sense of suffocation and danger of “the Believer being coerced by the Devil”.
“I’m going to be in the frame?“ Ji Sheng asked
“Just the hands.” The photographer said, “Take the props.”
Ji Sheng picked up the drumsticks, walked to the “Believer” sitting on the chair and stretched out his hand to gently press the tip against his throat. Xie Xuanming cooperated by holding his wrist.
In order to create a sense of the “Devil’s” evilness, the makeup artist added many small elements to Ji Sheng, such as emphasising the tear mole at the corner of his eye, drawing ragged corners of his lips and adding tooth marks on his wrist.
On the inside of Ji Sheng’s wrist, there were subtle red marks of teeth against the dark blue vein. Xie Xuanming looked up at him, holding the thin wrist in his palm, tapping his index finger on the edge of the tooth marks, gently rubbing the marks with the pads of his fingers. Ji Sheng had very beautiful hands; the drumsticks were held in his slender fingers with a carefree languor, the drumstick tips jabbing at Xie Xuanming’s throat, signalling danger.
The tension between the two was surprisingly strong, not at all like the kind of performance newcomers could display.
The photographer changed angles, mouthed “NICE” and pressed the shutter quickly to capture the image.
In the preview photo, the drumsticks of the unseen Devil were used as a blade against the Believer’ throat, but the Believer was oblivious. His bright eyes looked reverently up at the Devil above him as if to worship him as a god, while his hand was clenched on the Devil’s wrist, whether to pull him to the earth or take him somewhere more chaotic than hell.
When the photographer announced that the session was over, Ji Sheng wanted to leave but realized that his wrist was still held.
“?“ Ji Sheng lowered his head, “What’s the matter?“
Xie Xuanming didn’t say anything but pulled him down a little bit, looked down at the tooth marks on his wrist and rubbed his thumb and index finger over them lightly.
His movements were too soft, and Ji Sheng felt a bit weird. Before he had time to think about it, he heard Xie Xuanming mutter in a low voice “…it’s just like the real thing.”
Ji Sheng put away the weird feeling and said with a smile: “The makeup artist has good skills.”
“En.“ Xie Xuanming responded and wanted to say something else, but heard someone outside the shed shout.
The wrist was suddenly withdrawn; Xie Xuanming looked at his empty palm, then clenched his fist to hold onto the remaining warmth.
“Lao Sheng!“ Ji Sheng took a few steps over and said joyfully, “How come you’re here so soon?”
Sheng Kongzhi’s group took second place in the performance and also had a magazine photo shoot opportunity.
“We’re the next group to shoot.“ Sheng Kongzhi smiled, “I wanted to see how you guys are doing. It’s so bad without a mobile phone, communication is too inconvenient.”
The two talked enthusiastically as Xie Xuanming watched coldly from behind, gently rubbing his fingers, feeling the warmth from the wrist in his palm quickly dissipating.
Sheng Kongzhi said a few more words to Ji Sheng, then smiled and said, “By the way, I’m here to find Xiao Xie.”
“Xiao Xie? Why are you looking for him?”
Ji Sheng turned his head and the two looked at Xie Xuanming together. The smile on Sheng Kongzhi’s face faded away quickly and at the moment it seemed that only a subtle curve of his lips remained.
“Xiao Xie, can I have a word?” He said gently.
Xie Xuanming and Sheng Kongzhi walked out of the studio.
“I saw the shooting of you and Xiao Sheng. It was a good shot.“ Sheng Kongzhi was the first one to speak.
“Thank you.“ Xie Xuanming said flatly.
His calmness did not last long.
“You like Xiao Sheng, right?”
As soon as these words came out, Xie Xuanming raised his eyes.
Sheng Kongzhi met his gaze and explained with a smile, “I didn’t mean to question it, Xiao Sheng is delightful and feelings are something that can’t be controlled, you’re young and it makes sense to have a fledgling attachment to him.”
“I am nineteen years old.“ Xie Xuanming didn’t like his disapproving attitude and his temper rose, “The year you forced Ji Sheng to sing a love song for you, he was nineteen.“
Sheng Kongzhi noticed his tit-for-tat, remembered the figure that flashed by behind the corner that day, and smiled indifferently: “You think so.”
“Anyway, you need to exercise restraint.“ Sheng Kongzhi continued purposefully. ”Xiao Sheng’s dream is to make his debut. The world is not tolerant of homosexuality. If your feelings for him are exposed, not only yourself, but Xiao Sheng will also be seriously affected.”
Are you qualified to say this?
Xie Xuanming’s eyes became cold.
“And,“ Sheng Kongzhi said, “when Qingchu disbanded before, you chose to cut off contact with us, didn’t you? Now that the decision has been made, don’t interfere with Xiao Sheng’s dreams.”
As soon as he said that, Xie Xuanming suddenly remembered something.
About a year ago, Ji Sheng posted a group photo with Sheng Kongzhi in his circle of friends.
In the monotonous style of Ji Sheng’s friends’ circle of either stinky comments or pictures of drums, this group photo came out of nowhere. Xie Xuanming’s right eye twitched when he saw it and he intuitively went to look through Sheng Kongzhi’s circle of friends.
The last post there was two hands holding each other, one of the palms curled around a fruit candy, accompanied by the word ‘love’.
Xie Xuanming looked at the hands for a while, raised his hand to delete Sheng Kongzhi, flipped back and looked at the group photo again. In silence, his finger stretched out and withdrew, and finally gently clicked, deleting Ji Sheng as well.
At that moment, his sadness was so strong that it overshadowed his sanity. Looking back, he suddenly found an inkling——even a careless person like Ji Sheng knew that official announcements of the relationship could not be made fair and square. With Sheng Kongzhi’s euphemistic personality, how could he allow such an ambiguous hint on a social platform? How could the picture be a fruit candy, and how could it be seen by Xie Xuanming, who understood the meaning of the fruit candy?
All accidents are the result of inevitability.
Xie Xuanming looked down coldly: “You knew three years ago that I liked Ji Sheng.”
Sheng Kongzhi smiled: “You were obvious.”
Xie Xuanming said, “Oh.”
After pausing for a second, Xie Xuanming said:
“Ji Sheng’s purpose is not to make a debut, you know it better than anyone. His purpose is to start a band, go on a tour, make an album… to debut, this is your purpose.”
Sheng Kongzhi stopped laughing: “What do you mean?”
“Ji Sheng told me that you persuaded him to come to this show.“ Xie Xuanming looked at Sheng Kongzhi and said softly, “I am very curious. The person who gave up the band three years ago because he wanted to ‘return to a normal life’, three years later resolutely gives up the ‘normal life’ because of the band.”
Sheng Kongzhi’s expression darkened slightly: “Xiao Xie, people change.”
“You haven’t changed.“ Xie Xuanming denied, “You have always pursued maximising benefits, and it can be said that your original intention has not changed.”
Sheng Kongzhi was silent.
Xie Xuanming said: “People tend to seek benefits instinctively, and there is nothing wrong with it but if they pursue their own interests and hypocritically say it is for the sake of others… This is too insincere. Don’t you think so? Brother Sheng.”
Sheng Kongzhi didn’t speak for a while, not smiling anymore.
“After all, don’t you just want to snatch Ji Sheng?” Sheng Kongzhi spoke with an uncertain expression on his face, “The jealousy of a child that has to be covered up with pompous words.”
“Ji Sheng is not an item and there is no way to ‘snatch’ him.“ Xie Xuanming said coldly.
“Then don’t do anything that bothers him and embarrasses him.”
“Who is doing something that bothers him?“ Xie Xuanming tilted his head slightly, “I just completed the photo shoot according to the photographer’s request. Brother Sheng, you hurriedly called me out to talk… What are you panicking about? I am very curious. Even if my intentions are bad, Ji Sheng has a clear conscience. What are you unsure about? Are you worried about Ji Sheng’s future, or do you distrust your relationship?”
Sheng Kongzhi couldn’t laugh at what he said, so he could only lower his voice and warn: “This is between me and Xiao Sheng, it has nothing to do with others.”
Now it was Xie Xuanming’s turn to smile.
His eyes curved, revealing a little bit of jealous edge that he couldn’t hide.
“Brother Sheng is overly concerned.” Xie Xuanming took a step forward and spoke softly. “I will wait until things are no longer between you and Ji Sheng before I make my move… you can rest assured, I am very patient.”