Ji Sheng was asleep in the back seat and Xie Xuanming was crouching on the floor, half leaning against the front seat backrest.
It was quiet outside the car; both the agent and Su Jing had left.
The car was filled with an ambiguous musky scent. Xie Xuanming didn’t care about it. He was shrouded in this smell, his eyes hidden in the shadows, as he stared at Ji Sheng motionlessly.
Ji Sheng was covered with a piece of blanket — Xie Xuanming had removed a mat from the car to cover him. He was breathing calmly, the corners of his eyes a little moist.
Xie Xuanming looked for a while, stretched out his hand to wipe away Ji Sheng’s tears, moved his fingers down his cheek, brushed them over his chin and stopped at his neck.
The pads of his fingers lightly touched the uneven tooth marks.
Freshly left by him.
Xie Xuanming was slightly satisfied with this thought.
He opened his palm and wrapped it around Ji Sheng’s neck.
For a while, Ji Sheng’s throat was completely held in his hand.
Xie Xuanming was touching Ji Sheng’s throat, his eyes darkened with unreadable emotions.
He had done something very excessive just now, but unexpectedly he didn’t regret it, nor was he afraid.
He even wanted to do something more excessive.
“You know he wouldn’t have stayed with you if he had the choice, right?”
Not long ago, Su Jing asked that.
The muscles of his forearm tightened. Xie Xuanming’s hand exerted a slight force and the blue veins swelled on the back of his hand, but his palm remained gentle and loose.
He froze for a moment and let go in abandonment, squeezing the blanket and pulling it upwards to cover Ji Sheng’s neck.
When his back felt a little sore, Xie Xuanming leaned over and fished out his cigarettes and the lighter from the front seat drawer, unlocked the car door and got up to go out.
He took out a cigarette, lit it, leaning against the car door, and took a long drag.
With nicotine in his lungs, Xie Xuanming was barely able to calm down.
The doctor told him that it was better to vent emotions than to hold back.
But neither the relief of his desires nor the satisfaction of his smoking addiction could really clear his heart’s knot.
Xie Xuanming lowered his head and heard a camera click not far away.
He frowned in annoyance, suppressing the desire to raise his middle finger, and exhaled a long wisp of smoke.
His brain was occupied with countless fragments.
Those memories from the past… Xie Xuanming felt that he might not be able to reconcile with them for the rest of his life.
Two and a half years ago
Lin Siji, who was sitting next to the monitor, shouted.
Lin Siji was a third-year student in the Department of Choreography and Directing, and was currently shooting his debut film. Although the funding and manpower were not really adequate, the actors were all in good shape, especially the male lead, Xie Xuanming, who did not look like a newcomer, and even a perfectionist like Lin Siji had to praise his talent in acting.
The scene that just finished being filmed was a kissing scene. As soon as he called “Cut”, the two actors quickly separated in front of the camera. The makeup artist stepped forward to fix the actress’s lip make-up, while Xie Xuanming declined and walked straight to the side of the monitor.
“No make-up?” Lin Siji asked without raising his eyes.
He and Xie Xuanming were of the same age and were so good in their respective fields that they could admire each other, so they had become half-friends during the time they were filming, and it was easy to have a conversation.
“No need.” Xie Xuanming glanced at the monitor, “This one passed.”
“You’re confident.” Lin Siji smiled, staring at the monitor, playing back the scene carefully before getting up satisfied, “The kissing scene was good, quite deep.”
“Tsk.” Xie Xuanming shrugged.
“You’ve given away your first on-screen kiss.” Lin Siji laughed, “Take a break for a while and get ready for the next scene. The scene will be a bit long, remember to adjust your state.”
After the business was finished, Lin Siji relaxed a bit: “After the emotional scenes are done, we will enter the closing stage. What are your plans after that? Do you have any plans to continue to pick up movies or do TV series in the future?”
Although Lin Siji asked casually, he was sure that Xie Xuanming would continue to work in the movie industry.
At the moment, the story and integrity of this debut work were impeccable, and Xie Xuanming’s acting skills were the finishing touch, making this work flawless even from a professional perspective. It was bound to be a good film with explosive actors and an amazing director.
Good actors are a scarce resource for directors. Lin Siji could guarantee that after this movie was released, Xie Xuanming would receive countless invitations. He would just need to sit and choose a script slowly.
But to Lin Siji’s surprise, Xie Xuanming gave an answer that was diametrically opposite to what he had expected.
“I plan to make a TV series.”
“TV series? What TV series?”
“An idol drama.”
“Huh?” Lin Siji was genuinely surprised. He thought he had heard it wrong, “Are you serious?”
“En.” Xie Xuanming’s expression didn’t look like he was joking, “It’s quick and easy to make money, and it has some autonomy, it’s quite good.”
Lin Siji looked at him unceasingly, as if watching a piece of Hetian jade about to be carved into SpongeBob SquarePants.
However, he and Xie Xuanming were not familiar enough to share their innermost thoughts with each other. In the end, he could only sigh, pat Xie Xuanming’s shoulder and sincerely advise him: “It is a good thing to have a role, but you still have to cherish your reputation.”
Xie Xuanming lowered his eyes noncommittally: “I’ll think about it.”
“Huh!” Ji Sheng woke up from his dream and looked at the ceiling blankly, cold sweat covering his forehead.
It took him a few moments of staring at the darkened room before he extricated himself from his fearful powerlessness.
Ji Sheng rolled onto his back and got off the bed to the floor to stagger his way to the bathroom.
The water gushed out, and he was about to reach out to gather a handful, but his right hand withdrew the moment before it touched the water.
The wound should not touch water.
Ji Sheng stared down at the fishy red scar on his wrist in a daze, the creases around the edges of the wound still hiding the unwashed foundation.
You have to get used to it.
The doctor advised him.
How can you get used to it?
Ji Sheng gave a wry smile, took a handful of water in his left hand, slapped it haphazardly on his face, rubbed it off with the towel and lay back down on the bed.
Ji Sheng wanted to go back to sleep but as soon as he closed his eyes, the nightmare he had just had was there again, floating above him, haunting his soul, so heavy he couldn’t breathe.
In his dream, he returned to the stage two days ago.
Qingchu concealed the fact that he was stabbed by the sisheng in order to stabilise the stock, and the birthday party scheduled for the next day had to be postponed.
Ji Sheng was lying in the hospital in a daze and was discharged from the hospital two weeks later only to learn that the paparazzi had taken pictures of him drinking at the nightclub the night before his birthday and Qingchu used as an excuse to say he had alcohol poisoning to postpone his birthday party for some time.
He went to the nightclub the day before the birthday party and missed the promised fan meeting.
You didn’t need to guess to know what it looked like on the Internet.
Ji Sheng had no intention of thinking about it then, he was more concerned about the birthday party in a few days.
According to the announced process, he needed to play drums.
But his fragile wrist… couldn’t support a stable beat at all.
Ji Sheng took the time to practice for a few days but not only was he unable to stabilise his right hand that was shaking like a sieve, but he also tore the wound again and had to go to the hospital to bandage it.
Ji Sheng was so disheartened that he wanted to cancel the birthday party, but the venue had been booked and the tickets were sold. He couldn’t afford to lose the money for the breach of contract, so in the end he had to bite the bullet.
This was the birth of the nightmare.
In the dream, Ji Sheng sat in front of the drum set, feeling the weakness of his right hand over and over again, and watching the drumstick fall to the ground at the beginning of the show.
He heard exclamations from the audience, and when he looked up, he saw mixed shock and disappointment in their eyes…
Don’t look at me with those eyes.
Ji Sheng cowered at the sight of the fans, those stares turning into sharp blades that stabbed him with every stroke, making him drip blood.
He had nowhere to escape; he fell from the chair, hugged his head and cried loudly.
When the dream ended there, Ji Sheng suddenly opened his eyes, not knowing whether to shiver from the horror of the dream or to be glad that he had at least managed to hold his emotions together in reality and had not broken down on stage to become a laughing stock.
But really, he was already a laughing stock.
The topics of #Ji Sheng drops drumstick # and #Ji Sheng fake drumming# had been on the hot search for the whole day. Ji Sheng, with his favourite drums, became the object of sarcasm and trolling by thousands of netizens.
After the birthday party, Ji Sheng couldn’t bear the pressure, both physically and mentally, so after some discussion, Qingchu decided to let him stop his activities for a while and recuperate.
Although it was called recuperation, it was actually not much different from being blocked. After all, no brand was willing to cooperate with an artist with a bad image. Ji Sheng could do nothing but play drums, so at this moment, he was considered half-useless…
Fortunately, various brands didn’t hold Qingchu accountable, and the compensation given by the sisheng for the injury was quite generous, enough to cover Ji Yueming’s medical expenses.
Ji Sheng comforted himself while getting out of bed: consider it exchanging one thing for another. His hand in exchange for Ji Yueming’s medical expenses, it was also a good deal…
“Bang!” The water cup fell to the ground, the porcelain exploded and shattered all over the floor.
Ji Sheng stood still blankly, holding the handle of the cup with his right hand.
How could it possibly be a good deal.
He swallowed hard a few times, lowered his eyes in embarrassment, took out a broom from the storage room and with some difficulty cleaned up the floor with his left hand.
Ji Sheng was living alone in the dormitory at the moment. Sheng Kongzhi, whether it was out of guilt or due to the needs of the crew, did not visit him except for a few phone calls now and then. Xie Xuanming did see him once, excluding the hospital, at the birthday party…
He came as promised, blending in with the fans, tall and upright like a polar bear blending into a bunch of penguins — although he wore all black and his eyes were a little red.
Xie Xuanming stood silently in the audience and watched Ji Sheng struggle to finish the entire show. During this time, the fans in the audience continued to question and curse, and even left the venue in disappointment, but he remained motionless like a sculpture until the entire venue was empty. Ji Sheng alone was left standing on the stage in embarrassment, while he alone was still in the audience.
When everyone was gone, Ji Sheng finally couldn’t hold on. He squatted down, his right hand visibly trembling.
Xie Xuanming was silent for a long time and finally walked up to him: “Brother Ji?”
Ji Sheng suddenly raised his head, his eyes slightly red, his gaze alert and alienated.
Xie Xuanming was stabbed by that look, shrank slightly for half a step, but immediately moved forward and stretched out his arms: “Brother, do you still want to stage dive?”
He forced out a smile: “I will catch you.”
“Xiao Xie.” Ji Sheng finally saw him clearly, wiped his face and stood up, somewhat panicked and embarrassed, “Why are you here…”
“I promised to come…” Xie Xuanming was interrupted by Ji Sheng before he finished speaking.
“Thank you, Xiao Xie.” Ji Sheng took a step back, lowered his head and said, “But I’m very tired now. I’m going to rest. Stage diving, forget it.”
After saying that, he turned around and walked off the stage without a moment’s hesitation, disappearing behind a small door backstage.
Xie Xuanming stayed where he was, with his arms open, facing the empty stage for a long time.
The fragments of this meeting with Xie Xuanming were also very clear.
Should I make a phone call to apologise?
Ji Sheng thought absent-mindedly.
Xie Xuanming had come to attend the birthday party but was treated so coldly. It was something that needed to be apologised for, right?
Did Xie Xuanming still need Ji Sheng’s apology?
Ji Sheng hesitated.
Did an actor on the rise need an apology from a drummer with no future? There was hardly any need for them to work together or even meet…
He was questioning himself when his cell phone rang suddenly.
An anonymous call.
Either a scammer or a sisheng.
Ji Sheng hung up without hesitation.
But the person was very persistent and immediately dialled again.
Ji Sheng thought a little and answered the phone.
“Hi, hello, who is this?”
“Hello, Ji Sheng, this is a screenwriter Li Bingjun. I would like to ask, do you have any plans to act in the future?”