Nurturing Someone into a Lover
“Director Chen?” Shi Zhong Tang said with a laugh. “It is unlikely that he would go so far to implicate him..”
When she returned from Director Chen’s side, Ning Ning immediately looked for Shi Zhong Tang, telling him her worries and asking for his opinion.
“Boss Qu is both the doorman and the executioner; whichever identity he assumes, he cannot go against the rules of the theater.” Shi Zhong Tang pushed a cup of coffee on the table forward towards Ning Ning. “Don’t worry.”
That was my cup of coffee. Chen Shuang He glared at him, he had no choice but to pour a new cup of coffee for himself. He held it in his hands like a small animal protecting its food as he continued to eavesdrop on their conversation brazenly, trying his best to digest the information in the conversation.
“Is that so?” Ning Ning took the cup of coffee and had a sip.
“That’s right. If there is an accident in filming this time, then no matter if it was dying by poison, getting crushed by a chandelier, or getting run over by a husky etc… No matter what, no one else would be dying.” Shi Zhong Tang pointed his finger and made the gesture of firing a gun, aiming at Chen Shuang He and saying ‘bang’. “No one else but you, Little Chen Boy.”
The two of them spat out coffee at the same time. Cough, cough, cough. In the end, he still had to die?!!
“I was just joking.” Shi Zhong Tang said while grinning mischievously. “The executioner’s mission is to change the past of the stowaway, to make a mess of their past…but he cannot kill them.”
“The saviour does the opposite?” Ning Ning asked with a frown, “There’s bound to be a winner and loser between those two, is there a punishment for the loser?”
“There isn’t.” Shi Zhong Tang said.
Upon hearing that, Ning Ning breathed a sigh of relief. She suddenly saw Director Chen wave at her from a distance, thus she got up and said, “Director Chen is calling for me, I’ll be going over.”
It was after she was a distance away that Chen Shuang He heard Shi Zhong Tang laugh in a low voice, “…As if.”
Chen Shuang He turned his head to look at him. Shi Zhong Tang still had his regular happy-go-lucky look, it seemed like if you were to take his mask off, you would see a smiling face with curved eyebrows. For some reason, something felt vaguely off, but if you want to point out what it was specifically, Chen Shuang He could not do it…
A few days later, filming started. It went smoothly at first, but when they reached the part where Juliet was met with an unfortunate car accident while eloping, for the sake of avoiding her father’s rage, Romeo deployed manpower to find a girl who looked exactly like Juliet—Director Chen started to shout ‘cut’ incessantly.
“That take wasn’t done well enough.” Director Chen furrowed his brows. He seemed to be unable to point out exactly where it wasn’t done well, all he did was to repeat a word, “Retake.”
Chen Shuang He took a deep breath as he sat on the sofa, smartly dressed. He turned open the book in his hand and said gently, “Come in.”
The door opened, a woman’s pair of legs walked to his side in a timid manner.
This was the tenth woman who had been sent to him, the nine before her had all disappointed him, he did not hold much hope this time either. He took a look at her once he finished reading a page of the book, then he could not look away anymore.
Ning Ning was wearing a set of dusty clothes, dressed up like a greengrocer. She was used to walking through the dirty back alleys, being in such a bright and clean place, she did not know where to place her arms and legs for the moment, just standing there made her so nervous that the tip of her nose started sweating. Just as she raised her hand to wipe it, a hand reached out in front of her and grabbed her hand.
Chen Shuang He pulled her arm down to take a good look at her face. After a moment, he smiled with satisfaction. “Very well, you’re it.”
That annoying sound rang out again, Ning Ning looked towards the direction of the sound. She saw that Director Chen was still frowning, so before he could tell them to redo it, she said to him, “Director Chen, let the two of us take a break and discuss among ourselves how to go about this scene.”
They had been stuck at this scene for more than ten tries. Director Chen thought about it before he said, “Sure, take a fifteen minute break… Get over there and touch up on their makeup.”
The makeup artist frantically went up to them to touch up their makeup. While their makeup was being done, Chen Shuang He closed his eyes and remained silent, his silence akin to that of depression. This was not how Ning Ning remembered him. The movie emperor in her memory was always brimming with confidence, because he had never failed in his life…
He wouldn’t be like this, his performance getting affected by his worries.
Let’s give him a hint, Ning Ning thought.
“You’re Romeo now, Juliet is the person you love the most.” She walked to Chen Shuang He’s side and said to him, “After the person you love the most died, a person who looks exactly like her appears right in front of you. Even if you know it wasn’t her, but by association, you would not be able to help but treat her well, you would wish that you could give her everything…”
Upon saying that, Ning Ning was abruptly dazed, she quickly turned around and looked in a direction.
Qu Yan was standing a short distance away, talking and laughing to the people around, behind him was Boss Qu who was intently looking at her.
“Is that how you feel too?” Ning Ning asked in her heart.
“…I understand now.” Chen Shuang He’s voice suddenly rang out. Ning Ning turned her head around and saw that he had opened his eyes and was looking at her, his voice was that of thankfulness and reliance. “Let’s try again.”
Ning Ning entered in a timid manner. Chen Shuang He did not even look at her, he continued to read the book in his hand. The two of them repeated the scene from before. It was only when Chen Shuang He looked up at her that everything went on differently from before.
Chen Shuang He abruptly jumped up off his seat, the book slid off from his legs and hit the floor with a thud. He held Ning Ning’s hand. Unable to restrain himself, he pulled her up to him to get a closer look. Once he did, he frantically let go of her hand and took a few steps back in a slightly flustered manner, swallowing his saliva and sneaking a peek at her.
He stole glances at first, then he stared at her. Ning Ning thought that there was something on her face because of how he was looking at her, she awkwardly raised her hand to rub her face, but he grabbed her wrist lightly.
He gently pulled her hand down. The face in front of him, he could not get enough of it no matter how much he looked at it. He opened his mouth, almost calling out the name ‘Juliet’, but as those words reached his lips he suddenly woke up, saying with bitterness and loneliness instead, “…Very well, you’re it.”
The two of them turned over and took a look. Director Chen nodded with satisfaction. “It passed.”
The filming afterwards went very smoothly. When they were done with filming—while they were on the way back to the hotel—Ning Ning looked at Chen Shuang He with a slightly strange look, “You got it right away, you really are a genius.”
She was kind of jealous, because she was not as capable. Because of that, she went through a lot of hardships. She had to step into Life Theater time after time, to turn into a person in the movie time after time, to experience the different lives one by one, lives that were bitter or beautiful.
Chen Shuang He started to emanate haki. As an invisible man who had not been praised by anyone in years, he swelled up with a sweet feeling, as if someone had stuffed a candy in his mouth. The corners of his mouth could not help but try to curl up, but he held firm—thanks to his superior acting skills. He dodged her eyes for a moment before he looked at Ning Ning without confidence. “It’s not good enough, can you give me more guidance?”
…Can you look at me more, talk to me more?
“I have nothing to teach you.” Ning Ning was astonished, she smiled. “…I’m still in need of guidance myself.”
Originally, Chen Shuang He thought that she was looking at him, he finally could not help but curl up the corner of his lips. After a while, the corners of his lips slowly curved downwards. He looked in the direction she was looking—as expected, he saw a jade mask with the corner of its eyes dashed with a peach coloured stroke.
She was not looking at him, but the person behind him.
Chen Shuang He did not know where the sour feeling in his heart came from, that sweet in his mouth…had to have a special five-kernel filling1! It would only taste sweet for a moment before it let him taste the five other flavours.
After he returned to his hotel room, he entered the bathroom and turned on the sink. He bent down and splashed a handful of water on his face.
The wave of coldness made him slightly calmer. He slowly looked up with his face that was dripping wet as he asked, “…What exactly is your relationship with her?”
The mirror in front of him reflected his still dripping face, behind him, however, was completely empty.
Chen Shuang He rapidly turned around and took a look. “…Shi Zhong Tang?”
He looked around his room, abruptly pulling his curtain open. He saw that amidst the crowd, there was a masked person who clearly stood out. Coincidentally, he looked back, waving at Chen Shuang He.
“…Where are you leaving me to?!!” Chen Shuang He immediately rushed out of the room. He used Foshan Shadowless Finger2 to mash the elevator button. The elevator door opened with a ding, it then sent him downstairs. Once the door opened, he rushed out with lightning fast speed to chase after the figure in front of him, following him all the way to the exterior of the dance studio.
“Huff, huff, huff…” Chen Shuang He was a little tired from running, he took a moment to catch his breath at the door. Just as he was about to push the door and go in, he suddenly heard Ning Ning’s voice coming out from within the room with a trace of bitterness. “…Chen Shuang He is the genius, not me.”
“Come on, what are you angry about?” Shi Zhong Tang laughed. “Don’t tell me…you’re jealous of him?”
Chen Shuang He was taken aback. He gently opened a crack in the door then hid behind it to peep at them.
The two of them seemed to have planned this meeting. They sat on the floor in front of each other, a copy of the script was placed in between them. Shi Zhong Tang pulled Ning Ning up to his side and said, “I can’t see it clearly if it’s upside down, come over here and read together with me.”
“Don’t toy with me.” Ning Ning said coldly, “You’ve already looked through it once…you’ve already memorised it, right?”
Shi Zhong Tang blinked a couple of times and shrugged his shoulders. If he could, he would take off his mask and stick out his tongue. Seeing that Ning Ning was unmoved, he could only slump his shoulders. “Alright, you saw through me.”
“…You are a genius too.” Ning Ning was even more bitter. “I’m the only lowly mortal.”
Shi Zhong Tang slowly got closer to her. “…I am the genius who has been captured by you.”
Ning Ning suddenly turned her head. The two of them were too close to each other, she gave him a kiss that was separated by a mask.
After a moment of silence, Ning Ning suddenly held up the script to cover her face and said, “Cough, since you have memorised it, let’s begin.”
“Ning Ning, I can’t see your face.” Shi Zhong Tang tilted his head and looked at her. “You’re a little sly, doing that.”
“What choice do I have? I’m also desperate.” Ning Ning continued to hold up the script. “I’m but a lowly mortal, I have not memorised the lines, I have to act while looking at the script!”
Shi Zhong Tang looked down and laughed for a moment, then got up and took two steps. His voice turned cold with his back to her, “Come in.”
The scene that was repeated for more than ten times in the morning was repeated again in the dance studio.
Chen Shuang He watched from the door for a while. It then dawned on him, Shi Zhong Tang was actually an actor.
A far superior…genius actor.
His acting was very natural, be it the grasp of the character or the measure of his expressions, Shi Zhong Tang did not make a single mistake. The degree of the accuracy of his acting skills was a little scary to Chen Shuang He, because his perfection would infinitely magnify the imperfections of the people sharing the screen with him.
In other words, people who were not good enough would have no right to share the screen with him at all, otherwise, they would just be asking for humiliation.
Shi Zhong Tang leaned on the window, the night view fanned out behind him, the darkness without edge was like wings that he spread out. He exuded an indescribable demeanour, it made any place he stood on to be the center of the stage, it made him the focus of everyone’s sight. He played around with the paper box in his hand for a while before he gently took out a piece of sweet. He reached out towards Ning Ning and ordered her gently, “Eat.”
Ning Ning swallowed and reached out with both her hands to grab the sweet, but he raised the sweet higher, unwilling to give it to her.
“I told you to eat.” Shi Zhong Tang said lightly, “I didn’t tell you to take it.”
The sweet was sent to the side of her mouth. She looked at the sweet then at him. Finally, with quivering lips, she carefully bit the sweet out of his fingers. Although she was already very careful, her lips still touched his fingers while she didn’t notice.
He retracted his hand expressionlessly, it was impossible to tell whether he was angry. He stared at her lips for a while before he said, “Now, smile.”
Ning Ning frantically squeezed a smile out.
“Tsk, tsk, you scared me.” Shi Zhong Tang said with a look of disgust. He took another sweet out of the box and fed her. “Juliet is like this piece of sweet. When you smile, you have to be as sweet as the sweet in your mouth.”
She ate sweets for one moment, smiling at him at the next moment. After he fed her about ten pieces of sweets, Shi Zhong Tang suddenly thought of something, “That’s right, after Juliet has eaten sweets, she would always kiss me saying she wants me to have a taste.”
After he finished speaking, he smiled and got closer, but Ning Ning pushed him in the chest.
“What are you doing? ” She was a little exasperated and a little flustered. “Isn’t this getting too real?”
“Oh, you are acting?” Shi Zhong Tang blinked. “I wasn’t.”
Ning Ning was confused. She looked down at the script in her hands, then looked up in exasperation. “You are toying with me again. What do you mean by Juliet would always want to kiss after eating a sweet…there’s no such line in the script at all!”
“There is such a line in my heart.” Shi Zhong Tang got up to her and kissed her from behind the mask. “I want to know what my Juliet tastes like.”
There was a crack in the doorway, this scene was reflected into Chen Shuang He’s eyes through the crack.
“This Juliet, is she my Juliet…or his Juliet?” He could not help but think, “Am I Romeo, or a substitute for Romeo?”
1A type of filling in mooncakes which is a Chinese bakery product traditionally eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival. Wiki link
2A variation of a famous martial arts move the shadowless kick.