Ji Zhinong made an appointment with Yang Yi at the restaurant they used to frequent before.
All the dishes he ordered were according to the other’s taste.
Yang Yi glanced at them, considerably taken aback. “Mr. Ji seems to understand my taste very well?”
Ji Zhinong smiled. “It’s good that you like it.”
Yang Yi used the spoon to drink two sips of mushroom soup and then said, “I watched the video of your audition. It is very good. But when I looked into your previous works, it was as if you were a completely different person during the audition. I’m very curious, what was it that suddenly made Mr. Ji become enlightened?”
“Probably because I had a close brush with death.” Ji Zhinong joked about the accident during his wedding. “One has to strive for improvement for oneself.”
Yang Yi nodded, approving of his answer. “You’re still very young. If you really want to change, it’s not impossible. I can see unlimited potential in you. But because of some matters from before, it’s true that I don’t want to return to this circle again.”
“…Matters from before?”
Yang Yi was a classic strong woman. Even the most cunning people and the most difficult matters had never made her lower her head in defeat.
Ji Zhinong was truly curious. “I respect your opinion, but do you mind telling me the reason?”
The lights in the restaurant were both warm and bright. Yang Yi breathed in deeply, mist shining in her eyes. “I only followed Wen Che before.”
“…” Ji Zhinong had guessed the reason.
“It was my suggestion that killed Mr. Wen, so I can’t face this career field again.”
She lowered her head, her vision becoming blurry. Slowly, a few teardrops fell into the mushroom soup.
A hand passed her a tissue. She took it and wiped her tears, raising her head to say, “I’m sorry, I lost control of myself. I’m going to the restroom.”
Only after she left the table did Wen Che remember that on that night from six years ago, he originally planned to take a car back to the hotel. It was Yang Yi continuously hinting that there was a surprise at home for him that he changed his mind and went on the highway home.
If he’d gone according to the original plan and returned to the hotel that night, he might’ve avoided that accident.
Yang Yi was probably blaming herself over this matter to the point of being unable to face the career that was closely linked to Wen Che.
What was this for? It was just an unintentional mistake.
When Yang Yi came back, she’d already controlled her emotions. It was just that her exquisite eye makeup had disappeared from the crying, but she didn’t have the heart to freshen it.
Ji Zhinong saw her sadness and didn’t dare to force it anymore, only saying, “the incident from that year was an accident, don’t blame yourself too much. I think Mr. Wen wouldn’t want to see you be so sad over him either.”
Yang Yi: “…He definitely is very generous to others. Without him, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. It’s a pity fate couldn’t live up to his kindness.”
Ji Zhinong didn’t know how to continue the conversation. After all, death was such a heavy topic, he couldn’t really mock Wen Che’s death as Ji Zhinong. From others’ view, it would definitely be a rude offense.
After, the two avoided conversation and simply had dinner together.
Because in essence it was two old friends dining together, as long as they avoided heavy topics, the entire dinner was pretty pleasant. At the end, Yang Yi took the initiative to shake hands with Ji Zhinong. “We can be very good friends.”
“My pleasure. Right,” Ji Zhinong took out a red gift box from his pocket. “This is a golden pendant made for your son to make up for the month old birthday gift.1In China, celebrations are held for babies when they’re one month old.”
Yang Yi was a little taken aback. “…month old? My child’s already five years old. And this gift is too precious, I can’t accept it.”
Ji Zhinong stuffed the gift into Yang Yi’s palm. “It’s specially made for the baby. A pure golden horse.”
Yang Yi suddenly raised her eyes to look at Ji Zhinong. “Brother2“Brother” is an affectionate term used to address men one is close with, regardless of biological relations Wen said before that he’d give him a zodiac3The twelve Chinese zodiacs: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. Your zodiac is whichever year it was when you were born. (2021 is the year of the ox) gift when my child became one month old.”
Zhinong smiled gently. “Such a coincidence, I had the same thought as him. So you must accept it.”
Yang Yi couldn’t reject him and could only accept the gift. The two walked to the parking lot. Ji Zhinong watched her go get her car. When Yang Yi was midway there, she suddenly stopped, turned back, and walked to Zhinong, extending a hand to him again.
“Perhaps we can also be colleagues.”
“Ms. Yang agreed.”
Li Shaoyao got the news from his assistant. He hung up and stared at Ji Zhinong’s works from the past two years on his computer screen.
If it weren’t that their faces were identical, he would be completely unable to convince himself that the Ji Zhinong trying his best to wink in this bad film was the same person as the one who’d auditioned the other day.
Now even Yang Yi was willing to come out of retirement for him.
Even though his original intention was for him to be a good substitute, he was too fitting as a substitute.
No matter the personality, capability, or social skills, they were all practically copies of Wen Che.
It was too much of a coincidence. He even suspected that Ji Zhinong knew whose substitute he was, which was why he imitated it so perfectly.
But this possibility was very small.
No one knew Li Shaoyao had this type of feelings towards Wen Che.
He’d never shown feelings of love until Wen Che died.
And when Wen Che was gone, he went crazy looking for a substitute.
Yang Yi’s son was already going to kindergarten, and with the support of her parents and husbands, she very quickly picked up her own career once again.
That Wen Che could grow to become a six-time film emperor starting from small supporting roles was in part due to Yang Yi’s blood, sweat, and hard work.
The resources and connections she had on hand were enough to allow her to mingle in any career like a fish in water, not to mention she was returning to her original career.
As soon as the news of her return spread, many studios wanted to poach her, but Yang Yi clearly expressed that she was only interested in Ji Zhinong.
The people in the field didn’t sugar coat it, saying to her face that Ji Zhinong was a hopeless case and that her efforts would only go to waste.
Yang Yi wouldn’t go argue with others without evidence. She’d always liked to use actual results to do face slapping, just like her former boss Wen Che did.
She categorized all the negative news articles about Ji Zhinong. The exposé materials were just three things.
One, the Zhang parents had been in drug rehabilitation centers.
Second, there were some ambiguous photos taken in his early years of him being a drinking partner.
Third, becoming the main character of porn through AI face changing and it being sold on mass scale.
“The easiest to deal with out of these is the third point.” Yang Yi marked the third point with a red X. “The celebrities who end up in this type of video through AI face changing aren’t just Mr. Ji. But only Mr. Ji’s is being watched on a mass scale, so much that it’s misleading people into believing that Mr. Ji is the only celebrity who was the main character of porn.
Ji Zhinong: “…” That’s why I was saying I’m unlucky!!!
“Getting rid of this type of underground industrial chain is difficult, but we can start from cutting off the transmission medium. If De Yu had cared for you in the slightest, it wouldn’t have let content like this appear on social networks so unrestrainedly.”
Li Shaoyao quietly added salt to the wound. “I’m afraid that this type of video was purposefully spread by De Yu.”
Ji Zhinong: “(╯-_-)╯”
Yang Yi was also quite experienced. Even without specifics, she naturally understood the critical point. “I’ll ask friends in the field to find out who’s spreading it. In the near future, we’ll be able to give that person a taste of his own medicine.”
She then marked an X on the first point. “The unflattering matter of the Zhang family is a problem Zhang Yunan needs to worry about. What is Mr. Ji being afraid for? Remember, you are the Ji family’s actual young master. Would the real thing be afraid of being threatened by the fake? If the other party dares to write articles about this matter, I promise I’ll pour this dirty water back at Zhang Yunan three times over.”
Ji Zhinong nodded his head silently.
Yang Yi’s pen landed on the second point. It was only then that her face became a bit serious. “It’s only this matter that’s thorny. Zhinong, do you still remember the details from the time?”
Li Shaoyao was also very concerned about this question. Two gazes shot over at the same time, and Ji Zhinong unconsciously sat up straight, as if he was being interrogated in the interrogation room of the police station.
“My memories about this are really blurry, and I can’t put together the start, end, or reasons for it. The only thing I’m sure of is that my foster parents had forced me to go make money with this type of matter.”
Li Shaoyao frowned. “Then what did those people in the photo do to you?” The stuff he was referring to was naturally those matters that went over the line.
Ji Zhinong shook his head helplessly. “I can’t remember.”
“…Since you were forced to, I’m willing to believe you’re innocent,” Li Shaoyao said quietly. “You can’t get dirty.”
Yang Yi asked, “That year you were probably still young, right? Were you an adult?”
Whether he was an adult or not, Ji Zhinong couldn’t remember this detail either. But calculating based on the time the news made headlines, Ji Zhinong was 17 at most back then, a minor.
“Being forced, and as a minor at that, you are comparatively the perfect victim. Although this wording is too harsh, public opinion is biased towards perfect victims, so I need you to be completely innocent in this matter.”
Yang Yi circled the second point. “We can report it to the police. No matter how the case turns out, if someone uses these pictures and videos to attack your past, at the very least we can counter that the other is an accomplice of the criminal from the position of the victim and reduce the negative impact as much as possible.”
Ji Zhinong: “But we don’t have any place to start investigating their identities from.” Whether it was the pictures or the videos, aside from Ji Zhinong, most of the people’s faces were censored. Even though it wasn’t entirely impossible to make out the faces, it definitely created difficulty in identifying them.
“This isn’t any problem.” Li Shaoyao looked towards the door. A one-eyed macho man wearing a black suit walked in, a youth whose appearance was delicate and pretty in comparison.
The first impression of the other party was that they weren’t someone easy to find trouble with, completely a gangster that walked out of the movies.
Whether it was Wen Che or Ji Zhinong, neither had ever encountered this type of person. The other suddenly walking into the space and creating a not-so-small shadow under the light scared Zhinong to the point of jumping up from the sofa on the spot and hiding behind Li Shaoyao with a trail of smoke like a child who met a strange adult.
Li Shaoyao: “…”
Everyone in the room was amused by Ji Zhinong’s overreaction.