The cracks in Xie Xuanming’s eyes were so subtle that they were almost invisible, but Ji Sheng still caught a flicker of wavering.
He was silent for a moment, then took Xie Xuanming’s hand, stepped forward and crouched down, looking up at him, his eyes docile and gentle.
“If you want, I am Ji Sheng.”
Xie Xuanming still looked at him, but the light in his eyes disappeared a little bit.
His expression cooled down, as usual.
Xie Xuanming let go of Ji Sheng and raised his hand to push him away, “You don’t need to sleep on the sofa today, go to the next room to rest.”
After he finished speaking, Ji Sheng squatted by the bed for another two seconds before slowly getting up and going out.
As he closed the door, he peered through the gap and saw Xie Xuanming raise his hand to press between his eyebrows, fatigue and loss mixed in his expression.
Ji Sheng stepped back and closed the door lightly.
That night, probably upset by the excitement of the day, Ji Sheng had a rare dream about his childhood.
He dreamt that he was locked in a dark wardrobe, with a few rays of light filtering through the gap under the wardrobe door, but when he looked, there was only the distant floor below him.
Little Ji Sheng shivered against the wardrobe door, sobbing inaudibly.
The faint sounds of a man and a woman making love came from another room, drowning the faint cries for help from little Ji Sheng.
Ji Sheng was still too young at that time, two or three years old. He couldn’t remember specific things, and he couldn’t understand the twists and turns of the adult world. He only knew that as soon as his mother went out, his father would lock him in the top compartment of the wardrobe and then no matter how he cried, his father wouldn’t open the door.
The child’s ability to figure out things was not weak, and little Ji Sheng stopped the useless crying a long time ago, but his innate fear of heights could not be eliminated.
Little Ji Sheng trembled, moving away from the gap and shrinking into the corner where the light could not reach him.
Compared with the darkness, the abyss-like height scared him even more.
After he had shivered in the corner of the wardrobe for a long time, tired of crying and trembling, little Ji Sheng’s eyelids drooped and he fell into a restless sleep.
He didn’t know how long he slept, but he was awakened by the sound of a quarrel.
The man’s murmur, the woman’s screams, the sound of smashing things… After a while, it became quiet again.
Little Ji Sheng listened with his ears pricked up, and suddenly, the world lit up.
The wardrobe door opened wide and a pair of hands reached over and picked up little Ji Sheng who was trembling unconsciously.
The woman’s fingers were long, thin and white. Just looking at these hands made one’s heart flutter, realizing that she was a beauty. However, her fingers were thickly calloused and her arms were tougher than those of an average woman, with tattoos of letters and Chinese characters following the lines of firm muscles.
The owner of such contradictory hands trembled as she carried Ji Sheng down, and when she saw his eyes red and swollen and his expression horrified, she instantly collapsed.
Ji Yueming took her son into her arms, and her eyes that normally would not moisten even if the sky fell down could not stop trickling tears.
She kept repeating that she was sorry.
The young Ji Sheng did not know what she was sorry for. He only knew that he had never seen his nominal “father” since that day, and that no man had ever been brought into the house by his mother with the words that they would live together in the future.
Father and darkness disappeared from Ji Sheng’s world together.
Only the fear of heights remained, following him in the shadows.
In the morning, Ji Sheng rose from the bed bleary-eyed. The entanglement of nightmares dazed him. He didn’t breathe a sigh of relief until he got out of bed and stepped on the floor, regaining a bit of reality.
He went out to wash up, and as he passed by the corridor he saw Xie Xuanming, neatly dressed, sitting at the dining table with two portions of breakfast in front of him.
One had been eaten and one was untouched.
Ji Sheng yawned and walked into the bathroom, raising his hand to touch his shrivelled stomach.
He hoped he was not having any fancy ideas.
Ji Sheng quickly washed up and returned to the bedroom. There was a piece of sportswear in the closet, a bit large in size.
Ji Sheng changed into it, walked to the living room and sat down at the dining table.
“Is it mine?” He said, somewhat knowing the answer.
“En.” Xie Xuanming didn’t even look up.
Ji Sheng started with satisfaction. He took a sip of soy milk, choked on it, and coughed twice.
“Not up to your liking?” Xie Xuanming asked flatly.
“It’s a bit…” Ji Sheng swallowed the mouthful, “too sweet.”
“I ordered it according to my taste, with a bit more sugar.”
Ji Sheng wiped his mouth with a napkin, then wiped the spilled soy milk, thinking to himself.
This was not “a bit more”, it was like honey frosted with sugar, practically unpalatable.
Is Xie Xuanming a bear? Eating such sweet food?
But it seemed that he had always had a sweet tooth since he was a kid.
“There will be cotton candy rolling on the show today, do you want to come over and get one?” Ji Sheng suddenly remembered the program’s recording schedule and asked casually.
Xie Xuanming was looking at his phone; he paused for a moment and raised his eyes blankly: “Why do you think I would take the initiative to participate in an unnecessary recording… just for cotton candy?”
Ji Sheng was startled by the question, also realizing that it was indeed an exaggeration for a divine movie emperor to make a trip for a cotton candy.
He said with difficulty, “Because you like cotton candy.”
“I don’t like it.” Xie Xuanming’s face was expressionless.
“Ah so.” Ji Sheng smiled, “Then you, you have a good day.”
Xie Xuanming looked at him for a while longer, saw goosebumps on Ji Sheng’s arms and averted his eyes, staring at his phone again and letting out a perfunctory and mocking “en”.
Ji Sheng was sent back to the recording venue by the driver.
Probably because yesterday he attacked the show without a warning and Xie Xuanming spread his wings and made the show’s crew bow their heads and apologise, all the staff had heard about the (false) fact that Actor Xie was angry with the program on behalf of his little lover. When they saw Ji Sheng, some of them seemed amused, and the others nodded, very flattering and polite.
Ji Sheng enjoyed the pleasure of a fox pretending to be a tiger and was sent directly to the footage recording site to merge with the other members of Niepan.
“Xiao Hui is here! Come and see, the cotton candy machine!” The keyboardist was the first to notice Ji Sheng, pushing him over, pointing to the front and shouting. He was young, childish and excited to see something fun, “The program team is really generous.”
Ji Sheng looked in the direction he was pointing and saw a row of cotton candy machines.
Were they going to open a cotton candy factory? The corners of Ji Sheng’s mouth twitched as he said, “Quite generous.”
Huang Sizhe pulled Ji Sheng out of the keyboardist’s hands with displeasure and slapped the guy on the head: “So childish, pay attention to your image, okay?”
“Tsk!” The keyboard showed him his tongue.
At this moment, the crew announced the start of the recording, the keyboardist cheered and led the guitarist to rush out first. Huang Sizhe yelled and followed, with Lu Haoren and Ji Sheng walking slowly after them.
KUZI was worthy of being a variety show powerhouse. Even such a joyful flurry occasion as cotton candy rolling was all about competition.
“First place will record a promo video, and the second and third place will be promoted by the official blog!”
The director shouted with a loud speaker.
There was a restrained restlessness on the scene.
With rewards comes motivation; at least Niepan was pushing the pedal to the floor.
Ji Sheng’s skills from his odd jobs back then naturally included the cotton candy rolling. As soon as he switched on the machine, the other members were taken aback with his confident movements and automatically and consciously gave him the chief position, taking a back seat to command.
“Add some pink, pink looks good.” The keyboardist watched with bated breath.
“Green green, add green add!” The guitarist was buzzing.
“Yellow my ass, yellow is mango, don’t know Ji Hui is allergic to mangoes!” Huang Sizhe was furious.
“Who remembers such things but you… Xiao Hui doesn’t remember it himself, right?” The keyboardist muttered.
“Huh? I remember.” Ji Sheng smiled and quietly retracted his hand reaching for the yellow sugar grains.
With Ji Sheng’s reckless display, Niepan unsurprisingly won first place with a colourful cotton candy half of a human height in size. Of course when they held the cotton candy up to record the video they realised that they were almost completely blocked by this thing, and the video promoting the band turned straight into a cotton candy promoting video.
After recording the video, Niepan took a break and was sent off to get their make-up done.
They had to record yesterday’s stage performance one more time.
The drummer was accidentally lifted into the air due to an elevator malfunction.
While apologising, KUZI offered a compensation package for Niepan to make a normal version of the performance video to repay for the stage mishap caused by the accident.
Although Ji Sheng’s performance did not go wrong because of the lift-off, the crew was giving an extra chance of exposure for free, and Niepan gladly agreed.
The recording was scheduled for the evening, on the stage that had not yet been disassembled.
Xie Xuanming had a recording schedule in the evening. He arrived at the scene and was stuffed with cotton candy as soon as he got out of the car.
Holding a small stick wrapped in heavy shreds of sugar, Xie Xuanming asked expressionlessly, “What is this?”
“This is what Ji Hui left for you, Teacher.” The staff member said.
“Oh.” Xie Xuanming looked speechlessly at the pink heart with a small white tip and was genuinely puzzled, “He thinks I like pink?”
“Maybe he thinks pink is cute?” The staff tried desperately to find an explanation.
The two stared wide-eyed for a moment before Xie Xuanming finally let go of the trembling candy cotton deliveryman: “Okay, thank you for your trouble.”
The candy cotton deliverer was relieved and nimbly slipped away.
Xie Xuanming stood alone, holding the cotton candy and seriously pondering whether he should take it to the recording or put it somewhere else for the time being.
He was still struggling when suddenly several staff members rushed to his side.
“Something’s happened over there on the stage… There was a band rehearsing and the roof collapsed!”
“How could such a big deal happen! No one was hurt, right?”
“It’s not clear, the collapse was in the back half of the area and I heard the drummer was buried underneath.”
Xie Xuanming’s right eye twitched; he took two steps forward to pull one of the staff, asking sharply, “Which band was involved in the accident?”
“Emperor Xie!” The man was shocked to see him.
“Which band?” Xie Xuanming asked.
The man hesitantly said, “It’s the band making the re-recording today, the one whose drummer was accidentally lifted up to the ceiling yesterday. His name is Ji Hui…”
Before he finished the sentence, he saw Xie Xuanming throw the cotton candy in his hand, turn around and quickly rush towards the stage.
The cotton candy fell on the ground and rolled twice. The staff looked down; the white fluffy sugar was covered in dust, turning grey.
The Fourth Renai Hospital
Inpatient department, single ward.
The nurse Xiao Hong was holding a hot towel, gently wiping the face of the person on the bed.
She wiped the corners of the woman’s eyes, then delicately wiped her neck, squatted down, soaked the towel in water and wrung it twice.
Getting up again, Xiao Hong froze.
She turned to see a dry, thin hand grasping her, the tattooed skin hanging loose on the trembling bony arm.
Shifting her eyes upwards, Xiao Hong was surprised to find that the patient who had been in a coma for nearly two years in Bed No 4 now had her eyes open and was looking at her without blinking.
“Where is this?” Ji Yueming said in a hoarse voice. “Where is my son?”
9 thoughts on “Reborn as a Substitute Chapter 52”
Noo.. her son is dead already if I’m not mistaken. Huhu
Ji Sheng can’t catch a break 😅😅
Oh no I forgot he had a mom while re reading fck I can’t get myself to read the tragedy ahead 😭😭😭😭😭
Right, his mom was mentioned minimally and then suddenly she is in the front! 🙂 🙂 Ah, some past is sad but everything is going to be fine in the end 🙂 🙂
😥😥 Ji Sheng!
“…the white fluffy sugar was covered in dust, turning grey.”
Fire the janitor. That’s one dusty and dirty floor if it already turned bright pink cotton candy gray after a roll. Lol
I thought the same thing, it sounds like they never mop the floor 😅😅😅