“Why are you calling?”
When Ji Sheng picked up Xie Xuanming’s call, his words still carried the emotions from his argument with Sheng Kongzhi.
Hearing the obvious displeasure in his tone, Xie Xuanming paused.
“Did I bother you, cough… sorry…” He coughed, apologised in a low voice, and then whispered before Ji Sheng spoke, “I have a bit of a headache.”
His tone was softer than usual; he exhaled quietly, sounding somewhat weak.
Ji Sheng threw his anger away, grabbed the phone and asked nervously, “What’s the matter, have you caught a cold?! Is it from the rain earlier?”
“Maybe…” Xie Xuanming coughed on the other end of the phone.
Xie Xuanming was very healthy and had never been in hospital more than once since he was a child. Who knew that there would be some accident this time. His throat hurt a little on the first day after the rain but he continued filming for a few days without minding it. When his cough didn’t stop, Xie Xuanming paid a little more attention and took an expired cold medicine he found in his bag. The next day, his condition worsened and he developed a severe fever.
Despite his restraint, he still couldn’t hide his physical discomfort. Xie Xuanming was too muddle-headed during filming; after he made several mistakes in a daze, the director just sent him back to his room to rest, saying, “It’s a waste of time to shoot.”
Xie Xuanming ate two mouthfuls without appetite and fell asleep. He woke up with a terrible headache. He didn’t want to go to the hospital. Instead, he reached for the phone and called Ji Sheng.
Although there was no scientific basis to it, when Xie Xuanming listened to Ji Sheng’s anxious questions on the other end of the phone “Is there a fever?”, “Have you seen a doctor?”, “Have you taken your medicine?”, his spirits instantly improved. The corners of his lips rose uncontrollably and the headache was immediately no longer a problem.
“I’m fine.” Xie Xuanming coughed again and whispered, “It’s just that I’m bored staying alone at the hotel, and I didn’t know who to call.”
He said: “I didn’t get through just now. I thought you were busy with something, Brother Ji, and you wouldn’t answer my call.”
He said it in a miserable way, and Ji Sheng instantly associated it with his family situation. He recalled the first call he didn’t answer and his heart clenched with pain.
“I’m sorry.” Ji Sheng said, “I just… I had something to do and picked it up late.”
“Is it taken care of now?”
“Brother Ji, can you sing me a song?” Xie Xuanming coughed again and said in a small voice, “My head hurts, my stomach hurts, I can’t eat, and I can’t sleep after lying in bed for a long time.”
“Even if I sing to you, it won’t stop your head from hurting.” Ji Sheng was a bit worried, “Why don’t I order a delivery of cold medicine for you, or if you want to eat something, I’ll order you a takeaway.”
“I’ve taken my medicine and have no appetite.” Xie Xuanming said sickly, “It’s just a headache. Sing me a song. I won’t feel so uncomfortable if you sing me a song.”
“…” Although very materialistic, Ji Sheng had no other choice, “Okay, what to sing?”
“Fruit candy, Qingchu’s song from the Band Festival competition.”
“I know, your original song.” Ji Sheng paused and said a little embarrassedly, “I don’t remember the tune.”
“It’s okay, I remember.” Xie Xuanming hummed softly.
Ji Sheng repeated.
Xie Xuanming hummed again, and Ji Sheng followed.
Xie Xuanming’s voice was low, and with it leading the way, Ji Sheng gradually remembered the tune, switching from singing after him to singing with him.
The two sang quietly together, and when the song was over, they tacitly started again from the beginning.
After two or three times, Xie Xuanming’s voice dropped, more like someone murmuring in a dream than singing, and in the end, the murmur disappeared.
Ji Sheng listened to the steady breathing on the other end of the phone and gently asked “Xiao Xie”. After receiving no response, he quietly cut off the call.
After ending the call with Xie Xuanming, Ji Sheng found his assistant and asked for Xie Xuanming’s agent’s WeChat, sent him a message saying that Xie Xuanming was sick and that he should bring some medicine and porridge to him, then logged out of WeChat and sat down on the bed for a while before remembering that he had hung up on Sheng Kongzhi.
After his emotional outburst passed, Ji Sheng calmed down a lot, and when he looked back, he felt that his attitude towards Sheng Kongzhi was a bit too much.
He opened his address book and tried to call Sheng Kongzhi back to apologise.
He tried twice, but there was no answer.
He didn’t know if Sheng Kongzhi couldn’t answer the phone because it was time for training, or if he was angry and didn’t want to answer.
Either way, Ji Sheng was puzzled to find that he didn’t seem to care very much.
Halfway through his third attempt, Ji Sheng hung up the phone without further thought.
He finally clicked on WeChat, used WeChat to send Sheng Kongzhi a “sorry” and a few crying emoticons as an apology.
Sheng Kongzhi replied to his corresponding emoticon pack ten minutes later. Ji Sheng hesitated and did not write again.
Halfway through the tour, Ji Yueming’s final diagnosis was made by the hospital.
Ji Yueming’s condition was stable, but no doctor could say when she would wake up.
A vegetative state.
Ji Sheng, who rushed to the hospital in a hurry, was stung by the doctor’s calm words.
He thanked the doctor in a daze and walked out of the room, just as a call came in from the police.
The police officer who contacted him sounded a little guilty.
The surveillance on the road where Ji Yueming had the accident was strangely out of order. Because it was raining heavily, there were no witnesses present. The cameras two roads away did capture a van suspected of being the vehicle involved in the accident, but the licence plate was deliberately obscured and could not be seen clearly even after zooming in…
Ji Sheng listened in silence, and finally said, “Was it an accident?”
The police were silent for a while: “According to the investigation, it is more likely that it was deliberate. We are calling to ask whether your mother, Ms. Ji Yueming, had a conflict with anyone, or offended anyone…”
“I think… no.” Ji Sheng stared at the ground, a flash of uncertainty in his eyes, “If it’s really deliberate… then it was probably aimed at me.”
After he explained the particularity of his profession to the police, the police were also in a difficult position. After all, it was almost impossible to find the culprit from the tens of thousands of black fans.
The police finally said that they would continue to investigate, but both parties knew that the matter would probably end in nothing.
The tour was still going on. By the time of the last show, Ji Sheng had already lost eight pounds, his costumes were hanging on his body and he occasionally suffered dizziness and nausea from hypoglycemia.
But anyway, he eventually carried it through.
Ji Sheng’s birthday party was two days after the solo tour was over.
Ji Sheng shot an advertisement for a day, took a half-day break, and then started to run through the rehearsal process of the birthday party.
In order to celebrate his birthday, Sheng Kongzhi also took a leave of absence from the training group and came to the advertisement shooting site to pick up Ji Sheng from work.
Their relationship was a bit more estranged than before, but after all, they were bamboo horses and sweethearts. So when Ji Sheng saw Sheng Kongzhi, he hesitantly went up to him to give him a hug.
“Aren’t you in the training camp?” Ji Sheng asked.
“I asked for leave and will keep you company today.” Sheng Kongzhi said.
Sheng Kongzhi didn’t book a hotel, so he was going to share Ji Sheng’s room for the night.
He went in and took a shower. Ji Sheng played with his phone for a while, and when the low battery alert came out, he started looking for the charger.
He found that he had left the charger in the car.
“Do you have a charger? My phone is dead!” Ji Sheng shouted towards the bathroom.
“In my bag!” Sheng Kongzhi shouted back.
Ji Sheng leaned over the bed and struggled to pull Sheng Kongzhi’s backpack over from the nightstand at the other end.
As he opened Sheng Kongzhi’s bag and searched through it, something fell out with a snap.
Ji Sheng picked it up.
A box half the size of a card deck with the label facing down; Ji Sheng turned it over to see what it was.
Ji Sheng looked at the box for a while, then silently stuffed the condoms back into Sheng Kongzhi’s bag, and then put the bag back on the nightstand.
He plugged in the charger and lay down at the edge of the bed.
It was normal for men of their age to have needs. He and Sheng Kongzhi had been in love with each other since they were teenagers, but they had not been able to take the most intimate step for many years due to various reasons. The closest they had ever been to each other was when they slept under the same quilt, and Ji Sheng had thought that tonight would be no exception.
But Sheng Kongzhi seemed to be intent on taking things a step further.
As his sweetheart, Ji Sheng could not seem to find a reason to refuse.
Ji Sheng looked at his mobile phone absent-mindedly, but the screen remained untouched for a long time.
Sheng Kongzhi came out of the bathroom soon and walked to the bed, wiping his hair.
“There is a hair dryer on the desk.” Ji Sheng said.
“Okay.” Sheng Kongzhi walked over to the desk.
The hair dryer was plugged in, and a slight roar echoed through the room.
Sheng Kongzhi was drying his hair as his lips moved twice.
“What?” Ji Sheng shouted, “The hair dryer is too loud, I didn’t hear you.”
“I said——” Sheng Kongzhi amplified his voice, “I have some friends who want to throw you a birthday party.”
“Friend? University classmates?”
“No… you haven’t met them.”
“…I haven’t met them, why do they want to celebrate my birthday?” Ji Sheng felt baffled.
He knew that Sheng Kongzhi had friends in some circles, but those people…
Ji Sheng frowned slightly.
It was not really worth getting involved with them, and Sheng Kongzhi getting close to them always gave him a bad feeling.
“They know you, and a few of them are your fans.” Sheng Kongzhi added, “Old fans, the kind that were at every show before Qingchu broke up.”
“Oh, I didn’t know Qingchu still has such loyal fans.” Ji Sheng’s expression eased considerably, but on second thought, he realised there was a problem. “But I have the birthday show the next day and I can’t go out the night before.”
“Just come and show up.” Sheng Kongzhi said, “They all know that you are in a special situation and we won’t play late.”
When he put it like that, if Ji Sheng refused, it would be too disrespectful.
He thought for a while and said, “Okay.”
Sheng Kongzhi’s tense expression relaxed; he hastily dried his hair, unplugged the hair dryer, walked to the bed, and reached out to hug Ji Sheng.
At first, it was a normal hug but after a while, Sheng Kongzhi’s hands gradually moved down, going under the hem of his t-shirt.
He was about to touch his skin when Ji Sheng suddenly struggled.
He stretched out his hand to push Sheng Kongzhi away indisputably.
“I’m going to take a shower.” Ji Sheng said without looking at him.
He got up, walked to the bathroom door and stalled again, looked back at Sheng Kongzhi and said as if he had made some decision, “I’m very tired today, I want to sleep straight after the shower. You don’t have to wait for me, rest first.”