“You…” Ji Sheng’s throat was dry and it took a while before he said with difficulty, “How did you recognize me?”
“How can a mother not recognize her own child?” Ji Yueming laughed a little and reached out to caress Ji Sheng’s cheek, coaxing him like a child, “Even if I recognize you, there’s no need to cry…”
Ji Sheng blinked, only to find that his cheeks were wet.
He looked at Ji Yueming’s gentle expression and finally couldn’t hold back. He threw himself forward into her arms and hugged her, whispering, ”Mom…”
Ji Yueming patted Ji Sheng’s back gently, her eyes a little red: “My Xiao Sheng has suffered a lot of grievances.”
Ji Sheng didn’t say anything, but buried his head on Ji Yueming’s shoulder, crying like a child.
Xie Xuanming leaned against the door, quietly turning away, leaving space for this reunion of mother and son.
After about ten minutes, Ji Sheng calmed down, let go of Ji Yueming, and smiled embarrassedly.
“Are you doing well?” Ji Yueming asked, “Why are you…?”
“Pretty good.” Ji Sheng wiped away his tears, omitted some details and roughly described to Ji Yueming what happened.
“The criminal who harmed you has been caught, right?” After he finished speaking, Ji Yueming asked.
“Yes, caught two days ago, it should be difficult for her to get out again.”
“That’s good.” Ji Yueming breathed a sigh of relief, “Then I can go back with peace of mind.”
“Where are you going?” Ji Sheng was stunned, “Aren’t you coming with me?”
“You don’t live at home now either, do you?” Ji Yueming smiled and squeezed his face, “I want to go to see your grandmother.”
Ji Yueming had played in a band since she was young and rejected a marriage arranged by her family. Her parents were so angry that they cut off any contact with her. Later, Ji Yueming’s mother couldn’t bear it. She tried to contact Ji Yueming several times, but was rejected by Ji Yueming who still hadn’t forgiven her.
Ji Sheng hadn’t seen his grandmother even a handful of times when he was a child. He knew little about Ji Yueming’s family. Now that Ji Yueming said that she was going back there, he was a little stunned.
“When people go to the ghost gate, they always change somewhat.” Ji Yueming sighed, “And I still want to continue to play rock and roll. How can I be a parasite by my son’s side all the time?”
Ji Yueming’s eyes sparkled; Ji Sheng knew her character, so he didn’t force her: “Well then, pay attention to your safety, and call me if you feel uncomfortable or if anything is wrong.”
“Okay, okay.” Ji Yueming said with a smile, “At any rate, I am your mother. I have eaten at least twenty more New Year’s meals than you. Don’t make it sound like I don’t know what I’m doing.”
Ji Yueming turned to look at Xie Xuanming at the door, her eyes curious: “Is Mr. Xie the one who came to our place for dinner before?”
“He’s changed so much that I can barely recognize him.” Ji Yueming nodded thoughtfully, “But you guys are so close. With such a sincere friend by your side, I feel more at ease… Go now, you make people wait for a long time, I’ll just go back by myself later.”
Ji Sheng looked at her, wanted to say something but finally stood up and went to Xie Xuanming.
Ji Yueming was determined to go back to her own home. Xie Xuanming arranged for someone to handle the procedures and send her there, and then took Ji Sheng to the car.
On the way back to the villa, Ji Sheng received an anonymous call.
Real estate agent? Sisheng? Reporter? Or was it…
Ji Sheng ran through the guesses in his mind and was not surprised to hear Sheng Kongzhi’s voice when he picked up.
“Hello, Xiao Sheng?” Sheng Kongzhi’s voice sounded obviously a bit exhausted, “Sorry to interrupt again, I want to ask, do you know about the recent incident with Qingchu?”
Ji Sheng did not answer at once; he didn’t pay much attention to Qingchu recently.
He lowered the phone, turned his head and asked Xie Xuanming, “Something happened to Qingchu?”
“En. A major shareholder was arrested, the capital chain was broken, the artists left, public trust collapsed, and all parties asked to withdraw their investments…” Xie Xuanming recounted one by one.
“Oh, so tragic.” Ji Sheng replied insincerely and put the phone back to his ear to reply to Sheng Kongzhi, “I know. Is there a problem that you are calling?”
“Xiao Sheng, I know that Qingchu wronged you, but we are all willing to compensate for these things… But in this situation… Brother Tan was so angry that he went to the hospital. I really have no other choice, I can only come to you. You are also Qingchu. For the sake of old times, can you help me ask Xiao Xi to let Qingchu go…”
“Wait, let me ask.” Ji Sheng listened to him patiently for a long time, then covered the microphone and turned his head, “Can you let Qingchu go, please.”
“Are you begging?”
“No, it’s Sheng Kongzhi.”
“Oh, I can’t.” Xie Xuanming said indifferently.
“Okay.” Ji Sheng nodded and said to the phone, “I’m sorry, he can’t.”
Then he said: “And if you really want to plead for mercy, I advise you not to call me Xiao Sheng, nor to call him Xiao Xie. Because if you do, I am afraid that Qingchu will end up even worse.”
Without waiting for Sheng Kongzhi to finish, Ji Sheng hung up the phone and by the way put this number into the blacklist.
“You know me quite well.” Xie Xuanming glanced at him, saw Ji Sheng lower his eyes, his thoughts unreadable, and asked, “Do you want to let Qingchu go?”
“That’s just a bit of emotion… I’m not that kind.” Ji Sheng said, “There is revenge for grievances and there is grace in return to kindness.”
Xie Xuanming said nothing more.
Before they arrived at the garage and got out of the car, he asked without thinking, “Is there grace in return to kindness, do you really think so?”
After saying that, Xie Xuanming didn’t wait for an answer, unbuckled his seat belt and got out of the car, leaving Ji Sheng in the co-pilot. Ji Sheng waited for the lights to dim, sighed quietly and finally pushed the door to get out of the car too.
“Music First 2” ended earlier than planned. This eventful show was not able to run three stages plus a final before the debut group was born in the limelight, as it had in the previous season.
In the second season, the show’s rules were changed, from the most popular musicians forming a debut group to the most popular band signing up as a whole, and the length of the show was forced to shrink with all the rumours and scandals surrounding it. It was rushed to a close after the second public performance.
Although the show made a lot of mess, the attention was not low, especially towards Niepan. Because of the frequent rumours about the drummer, and those rumours being clarified, the public knew the band very well. Niepan’s popularity made a qualitative leap, putting it in the first position after the second public performance, with a huge gap in popularity with the second place.
The members of Niepan didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry at the strange way their popularity had soared. They had been working diligently for years to run commercial shows without any splash, but surrounded by rumours and hype, they became a big name.
It could only be said that the entertainment industry was a game of capital. Niepan, both unfortunate and lucky, anyway, had at least worked hard and had talent, so their strength matched their popularity.
Before the final night, Lu Haoren was discharged from the hospital and reunited with Niepan. The complete Niepan played perfectly, bringing this tumultuous journey to a successful conclusion.
On the night of the final, after several bands performed, the host appeared on the stage with a small card with the name of the winner. After whetting everyone’s appetite, he finally announced the debuting band: ”Congratulations to… Niepan——”
“Wait a minute!” There was a sudden interruption from the waiting area, “I have something to say.”
The host slammed on the brakes and looked towards the source of the voice. The light also turned to illuminate Ji Sheng.
Ji Sheng held a microphone in his hand; the host was taken aback for a moment, glancing at the director in the audience.
The director and the host looked at each other; the scene was not in the script, and they both looked confused.
The host scratched his head; the director didn’t give a hint, so he could only gesture: “Please go ahead, contestant Ji Hui.”
“Participating in the show “Music First”, I met many friends and gained many fans. This was flattering and I cherish the moments spent on this show…” Ji Sheng said the usual words of thanks, but suddenly his monologue took a different turn, “However, because of my personal circumstances, I have caused a lot of trouble for this show. After discussing with the members, we agreed that we should not be shameless enough to cause any more trouble for the show, nor are we entitled to enjoy any of the glory that belongs to the winner. So I am sorry… Please allow me, on behalf of Niepan, to choose to withdraw from the competition at this point.”
As soon as these words came out, there was an uproar.
When the host spoke, everyone confirmed that the victory was already in Niepan’s bag.
Everyone knew that KUZI’s tactics were disgraceful, but the resources the show was giving to the winner – a year and a half contract with Hemei Entertainment – were undoubtedly excellent resources for a small band with no name and no backer.
What’s more, Niepan’s contract had just been terminated by their company. It could be said that their life was uncertain and their future unreliable. Now Ji Sheng had withdrawn from the competition on behalf of the band and given up signing the contract. Both the show and the audience were puzzled as to why they were giving away the benefits they had been handed.
“Then what…” The host’s expression was stiff as he tried to salvage the situation, “Has contestant Ji Hui confirmed this decision? Perhaps it can be reconsidered…”
“No need to think about it, it’s a joint choice of our band.” Lu Haoren took over the mic; he was still a little unsteady on his feet, but at the moment his words were calm and extraordinarily convincing, “Thank you to the show for taking care of us, and thank you to all the fans for your support, and the audience for your understanding. I look forward to the day when Niepan is revived and we will see you all again.”
With that said, Niepan no longer hesitated, the members bowed to the camera together and walked off the scene amidst the chaos.
“Is it really okay for us to withdraw from the competition like this?”After getting off the stage, the guitarist began to have second thoughts, “We won’t get blocked by KUZI for not giving face, right?”
“What are you afraid of! Teacher Xie has us covered!” The keyboardist grinned, hugging him.
Niepan dared to play this game in the final scene, naturally not on a whim. The suddenly lifted stage, the collapsed beams… These unexpected accidents made Niepan have a grudge against KUZI a long time ago. In addition, Hemei Entertainment was also notorious for squeezing artists, not a good place to go…
If there was no choice, they would have had to accept it, but on the edge of the cliff, Xie Xuanming stretched out a helping hand and offered a good contract.
Niepan had no reason to refuse.
“Do you really want to sign it?” Huang Sizhe leaned to Ji Sheng and asked in a low voice, “The contract is seven years. If you really sign it, you won’t be able to get rid of that guy surnamed Xie.”
“This is an employment contract, not a deed of sale.” Ji Sheng smiled dumbfounded, and comforted, “And Xie Xuanming is actually a good person, and he treats me… very well, don’t worry.”
“Oh, the electronic version of the contract has been sent!” The keyboardist excitedly interrupted the conversation between the two.
Ji Sheng and Huang Sizhe stopped talking, and the Niepan members gathered together and looked at the electronic contract curiously.
The first page had the company’s logo printed on it, and it was the first time Ji Sheng had seen anything related to Xie Xuanming’s company, so he curiously looked closer at it.
When he saw the logo, his pupils shrank in amazement.
The two black lines formed the mountains, and in front of the mountains, a few horizontal and vertical strokes depicted a simple house.
Under the logo, the company’s name was bright and clear.