“The same.” The young man didn’t refuse, so Ou Shaowen bought another bottle of water and handed it to him in return.
The young man took the water and naturally walked beside Ou Shaowen. They walked together for a while, until they reached the door of the practice room. Ou Shaowen stopped and glanced at him suspiciously, “Do you have dance classes too?”
“…yes.” The young man made mental preparations for a while, and then introduced himself, “My name is Song Yijiu. I am 25 years old this year. Because I sing well and I am very good at imitating other people’s voices, the company might send me along with you to that talent show called ‘Under the Lights’.”
Ou Shaowen blinked and looked at him without saying a word.
Song Yijiu wasn’t quite used to looking at people for long periods of time while talking. Every time his eyes would just sweep over your face before wandering off again, “So, from today onwards, I’ll probably be taking dance classes with you.”
“Oh.” Ou Shaowen nodded, indicating that he understood. He was silent for a moment before he realised that it would be polite to introduce himself as well, “My name is Ou Shaowen and I am 20 years old this year.”
In fact, this was not his true age. He didn’t know how old he was. It was the age he was given. The person who had given him the documents had set his age at random by looking at his appearance.
Song Yijiu was not someone good at starting conversations with strangers, and Ou Shaowen was even less so, so the two of them barely interacted with each other during the dance class.
For Ou Shaowen now, the company’s dance courses only played a role in maintaining basic skills and strengthening his muscles, and did little to improve his dancing skills. Song Yijiu was different. He was really an ordinary person without any foundation in dancing. He was not as talented as Ou Shaowen and his whole body seemed extremely clumsy. The teacher spent a lot of energy correcting his basic posture, but the harder he worked, the more clumsy he seemed.
Breathing heavily, he stepped aside, twisted open the mineral water, tilted his head, poured a little on his face and then, in a blur of water, looked at Ou Shaowen.
Early this morning, when he received a call from the head of the so-called idol department of the company, calling him to the office, it took him a lot of effort to calm himself down and accept this pie-in-the-sky arrangement. Before, Qimeng didn’t even have an idol department, and he was just a supporting actor who spent his youth playing many small roles in movies and TV series. Singing was his personal hobby. But suddenly this morning, the head of the department personally explained to him that he heard him singing when he passed by the practice room by chance. He admired him, approved of him, and thought he might have a greater future in the idol path.
The company made this unusually sudden decision for him less than half a month before the start of the recording of the show in order to divert a part of the attention from ordinary viewers to Ou Shaowen’s big background, and more importantly, to share part of the fire and pressure.
Finally, after explaining everything, the head of the department smiled and admonished, “You’ll be taking classes with Ou Shaowen from today onwards. He’s quite talented at dancing, so you can ask him for help as much as you like and let him teach you, no need to be afraid to lose face. You should have heard of him, getting on good terms with him can get you a lot of shortcuts.
“By the way, President Ou seems to be pampering his little friend recently. When you are with Ou Shaowen, ask him to help, thank him more and praise him more. Coaxing people is just like coaxing little children, you should be able to do this.”
Song Yijiu was not essentially a person who liked to trouble others, nor was he a sweet-talker who could coax people and please them, but he also cherished this opportunity that had come to him so easily.
He was no longer young, but he still had dreams that he was unwilling to give up.
After taking two deep breaths, he crumpled the plastic bottle in his hand and walked up to Ou Shaowen, finally mustering up the courage: “The teacher has left after class, can you teach me the movements just now?”
Ou Shaowen raised his head and looked at him. Song Yijiu held his breath, as if waiting for some kind of sentence.
After their eyes met, Ou Shaowen stood up and walked to the middle of the practice room, “I’ll demonstrate it again at 0.5 speed.”
Ou Shaowen didn’t know how to teach others where to place his hands and where to put his feet. He seemed to understand it all after watching it once. His body’s instincts came naturally, and he didn’t need to think too much, so he just repeated the movements to Song Yijiu over and over again, from coherent movements to decomposing movements, from 0.5 speed to 0.2 speed, without feeling tired at all, without the slightest impatience, until Song Yijiu’s physical strength ran out and he took the initiative to stop.
Song Yijiu collapsed on the floor, dizzy, his heart beating so fast that it seemed about to pop out of his throat.
Ou Shaowen glanced at him and reminded him: “You can’t sit down right after exercising, it will be a burden on your heart.”
“Oh, thank you… thank you.” Song Yijiu struggled to get up again. Remembering the previous instructions, a little embarrassed, he praised, “Thank you for your help. You are really good at dancing. I have never seen anyone who can dance so well after only practising for such a short time. If you hadn’t helped me today, I definitely wouldn’t have been able to figure out these few moves correctly on my own.”
After he said these words, Ou Shaowen didn’t respond for a while. Song Yijiu felt ashamed of himself. The purposeful compliment made him feel very strange. His cheeks were a little hot, and he wanted to skip this topic as if completing a task.
So he quickly found an excuse, saying that he had other arrangements later, and hurriedly said goodbye.
Ou Shaowen stood still and watched him stride away, soon out of sight, and then he realised that he was a little happy to be praised.
What a good day it was today, how come he was praised all day long?
After Ou Shaowen called Qi Yue and asked him to come and pick him up, he sat in a chair and tapped his heel on the floor, thinking that since it was such a good day, should he go by the way to fulfil his promise to buy a gift for Ou Renjin?
“Buy a gift, okay, I’ll go with you.” Seeing that it was still early, Qi Yue gladly agreed to his proposal and drove to the high-end shopping centre where the most luxurious goods in the city were gathered.
There weren’t many people shopping here, and some of the shop assistants sat lazily playing with their phones, waiting for customers to actually walk up to them before they got up to say hello.
Ou Shaowen hadn’t even entered a few shops. He seemed to be here for window shopping. He kept walking forward, occasionally passing by the shop’s door and glancing in lightly.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve heard you talk about buying gifts for President Ou.” When Ou Shaowen brought up this topic before, Qi Yue was a bit indignant for him, but later on, when President Ou talked to him many times because of Ou Shaowen, he gradually felt that his impression of President Ou over the years seemed to be biassed. At least when it came to the arrangement of Ou Shaowen’s career, President Ou was calm, sensible and thoughtful, and did not use other people’s future as a way to make fun.
For such a caring “boss”, it was fine to buy a gift to thank him.
“Little friend Shaowen, we’ve been walking around the mall for a long time, and my feet are sore. What do you want to buy?”
Ou Shaowen stopped, “Ou Renjin said to give him something I like, but I’ve been looking for a long time and I don’t think there’s anything I like here.”
Hearing his answer, Qi Yue raised his eyebrows with interest, feeling that President Ou’s request was really thought-provoking, “Then we can just change places. Where can you buy what you like?”
Ou Shaowen was a little confused. Since he left the laboratory, he had only asked for two things on his own initiative. One was the green leaves that Ou Renjin gave him, and the other was a simple remote-controlled racing car that was not exquisite. But speaking of it, these were not his preferences, they were just his obsessions from his early years because of a certain phrase he had heard, a certain scene he had seen.
The researcher who specialised in the restoration of his epidermal cells had a wife who liked to make leaf bookmarks very much, so each of his books had a few leaf bookmarks that were either yellowed or withered so that only the texture of the leaf veins was left. The man obviously cherished these things very much in his daily life. Once someone wrinkled his leaves when borrowing a book. The man grabbed the other party’s collar and yelled in a vicious tone as if he was going to eat people, but when he answered his wife’s phone calls, he always seemed to be disgusted and would complain to her softly, “I think the leaves still look best when they’re green and vibrant on the tree, and when they’re crushed they’re no different from ordinary bookmarks.”
But Ou Shaowen had never seen what the green leaves growing on the tree looked like. He had never played the remote-controlled racing car that the researcher’s son often played in the corridor outside the laboratory.
Later, when he really got them, he felt that these things seemed to be nothing special. There was nothing unusual about them, and they were not worth his long anticipation.
The only thing he really liked, after thinking and thinking about it, still seemed to be Ou Renjin. There was nothing else he liked but him.
So he shook his head, “I don’t seem to be able to buy what I like.”
“Are there still things in this world that you can’t buy with money?”
“Ou Renjin, you can’t buy him.” Wasn’t this obvious? He thought Qi Yue would know.
Qi Yue choked.
The corners of his eyes twitched slightly, he took a deep breath, barely holding back his desire to complain, and seriously solved the problem for his own artist, “You definitely can’t afford to buy a real person if you want to, but you can still buy a substitute. However, are you sure you want to buy a ‘President Ou’ for President Ou?”
It sounded a bit perverted.
Ou Shaowen’s eyes were puzzled and filled with expectation.
“Okay, follow me.”
Ou Renjin finished watching a movie that had just been released, and while he was carefully watching the credits under the sound of the ending song, he received a call from abroad.
He was a little surprised, not realising that his face had become serious. He picked up the phone and said softly, “Hello.”
There was silence on the other end of the phone for a while, “I seem to have found out where the night nurse from before is now.”
Ou Renjin’s whole body began to tremble unconsciously. He felt his scalp going numb, as if because of the words coming from the phone, he instantly returned to the nightmare that had tormented him for many years.
The nightmare where he had sneaked into his mother’s ward because he was in pain in the middle of the night and couldn’t sleep, only to fall asleep while lying on the carpet next to the bed, afraid to touch the large and small instruments connected to his mother’s body, and to be awakened by the sound of footsteps later.